The five inner planets (not counting Earth), those visible to the naked eye, have been known since ancient times and were named after Roman gods.
- Mercury – the messenger of the gods
- Venus – the goddess of love
- Mars – the god of war
- Jupiter – the king of the gods
- Saturn – the god of agriculture
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto weren’t discovered until after the telescope was invented.
In 1871, a German-born British composer named William Herschel discovered the planet we now know as Uranus.
English astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet in 1781 during a telescopic survey of the zodiac. He promptly named it the Georgium Sidus (the Georgian Planet) in honor of his patron, King George III.
Not everyone loved this name. However, it did work out well for Herschel as it earned him an appointment as King George’s own personal astronomer.
…the name was not widely appreciated outside of England. “Herschel,” after its discoverer, was also suggested, as was “Neptune.”
It wasn’t until 1850 – nearly 70 years after its discovery – that the formal name of Uranus was adopted by the scientific community. The name had been proposed by German astronomer Johann Bode. The name Uranus is a Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos.
Uranus is the only planet named after a Greek god. All others are Roman.
In case you were interested in knowing how it should be pronounced. It’s pronounced like “urine us”, not “yer anus”.