Astronomical, Huh? #socs

I’ve been trying to make my posts a little more visually stimulating, which means I’m trying to add pictures in addition to videos. When faced with a prompt like “astronomical,” my first reaction is “what the f…” after which I go out to Pixabay and find an appropriate image. So I stuck astronomical into the search engine and got several pages of images, including this one:

William Herschel. Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

This is William Herschel, better known as “the smartass who named Uranus.” Actually, he didn’t name it; in fact, he thought it was comet at first. Uranus is the only planet named for a Greek god; he was the father of Cronus, or as the Romans called him, Saturn. If they had decided to stay with Roman god names, they’d have named the planet Caelus, the name of Saturn’s father. Caelus means “sky” in Latin; Saturn’s mom was Terra, which means “Earth.” My guess is that no one knew the name of Saturn’s father, so they said “Screw it! We’ll name it Uranus, and screw ’em if they can’t take a joke!”

If they renamed the planets to Greek gods, we’d have Hermes, Aphrodite, Earth, Ares, Zeus, Cronus, Uranus, Poseidon and Hades.

And, in case you were curious, an astronomical unit is 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers, the average distance between Earth and the Sun. You’re welcome.


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26 thoughts on “Astronomical, Huh? #socs

  1. New names for the planets? Please no. I don’t think I have it in me to learn them, even if I think Uranus is lousy name for a planet. Which I do.

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    1. I was just saying that, if we wanted to be consistent and use Roman gods as planet names, Uranus would be named Caelus, or if we chose to rename the whole thing with Greek god names…. never mind… Evidently, in astronomical terms, Uranus, like Jupiter and Saturn, is a gas giant, so the name is oddly appropriate.

      Ever wonder what the populace of Uranus calls us?

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    1. That could work. Atlas has the advantage of having the same name in Roman and Greek mythology. Guess we never thought it was necessary to give the Earth a name, though we could probably use Terra, mother of Saturn and wife of Caelus. Ceres and Minerva might work as well.

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  2. So he is the one with that humour…heheeee. No, his name sound German and they don’t have a good sense of humour:). I can’t sa6 that because I have a lot of German in me except I think I love humour. I have to admit, I always giggle when hearing or saying that planet.

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    1. William Herschel was born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in the Electorate of Hanover, so you’re more right than you probably thought. The Germans I’ve known were actually pretty funny guys…

      There was a question in one of the early editions of Trivial Pursuit that asked “Does Uranus have an aurora?” that caused several minutes of uproarious laughter among a bunch of us playing one night. I was never able to find it again…

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  3. Weird reference, because I was talking about William Herschel today, but this W.H.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_William_Herschel,_2nd_Baronet

    And your “astro” topic made me laugh because at the moment the Aussie Bachelor reality TV program is airing (with an astrophysicist as the bachelor). I haven’t watched it, but there was an advert on TV for it (which went viral). It’s pretty funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7uqeTDzars

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    1. The William you talked about (the second Baronet) was the son of John Herschel (the first Baronet), whose father was the one I discuss. All in the family…

      That’s a funny clip… “I’m an astrophysicist,” “I’m a Gemini” … HAHAHAHAHA!

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        1. William Sr. was a musician and a composer of some note as well as being an astronomer. Amazing how many scientists, engineers and mathematicians are also better than average musicians.

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  4. Hi John – Herschel did much for astronomy .. but it was his sister Caroline who recorded and did the admin work for him … such is the woman’s life! But I agree – science with information and humour … so we live, laugh and learn – cheers Hilary

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    1. Herschel was also a musician of some note, from what I gather from his Wikipedia biography, which might or might not be correct. It also mentions Caroline and the work they did together. Glad you liked the funny!

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