Let’s rename that Seventh Planet

This piece is modified from a 3D graphic, the original credit tag for which I left in the bottom corner.  Unfortunately, file translation has obscured it.  If anyone knows the original credit citation, please let me know so I can give credit where due.It has never (yet!) been a serious possibility, but the proposal to rename Uranus does keep popping up. And not simply because it sounds perverse in English no matter how you stress it, but because it violates the theme of the planets in our star system having names of gods in Latin.

“Uranus” was simply a Latin transliteration of a Greek god’s name. Moreover, the Greek Ouranos was god of the entire sky, so it’s a little weird to give a single planet this name.

Unfortunately, since the political brouhaha caused by William Herschel trying to name the planet he discovered first after himself and then after the king of England (Uranus was eventually suggested by German astronomer Johann Bode) many of the other big Roman deities were scooped up. Ceres and Pluto are dwarf planets, for example. Vesta is an asteroid and Janus a satellite of Saturn.

That leaves Minerva. Despite the fact that the asteroid Pallas was named for an epithet of her Greek counterpart, Athena, I believe Minerva is the best solution to the Uranus predicament. Not only was she an important deity alongside Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, and Mars, but she helps Venus and Ceres break up the boys club that dominates the current set of major spheroid bodies orbiting Sol.

For those who have a hard time remembering which of the two ice giants come first, Minerva-Neptune lends itself to an alphabetical solution: M comes immediately before N.

It also solves the problem of how to pronounce the adjective form, Uranian, which suffers from the same confusion as the words Irán and Iráq in the mouths of English speakers.Yoo-ray-nian? You-rah-nian? You-really-oughta-rename-this-planet-already.

Minervan. Did you wonder for even a moment how to pronounce that in your head? No.

Would you be hesitant to say it out loud in front of children? No.

So, let’s do this.


Also, check out my proposal on a better way to reference exoplanets.



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