Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Meet the Seventh Planet, George

The seventh planet, Uranus, was discovered at the end of the eighteenth century by the musician and amateur astronomer William Herschel. He was tentative about calling it a planet instead of comet until the Astronomer Royal had received confirmation of its existence and mathematical calculations of its orbit. The great problem then came of naming the first planet discovered since ancient times.

Herschel, who was a Hanoverian like George III, and who had recently received a royal appointment and yearly stipend from George III suggested naming it 'George's Star' or, in Latin, 'Georgium Sidus'. This was understandably unpopular with the world outside of Britain and the planet was eventually named after Greek mythology again: Uranus. 

Given how easily mispronounced the name 'Uranus' continues to be, perhaps 'George' isn't that bad a name for a planet.

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