3 Awesome Things I Learned About Planets

Astronomy is one of my favorite nerdy things. I suppose I can blame my dad for this overwhelming interest. You see, he’s an aeronautical engineer and has been involved in missions that involved the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station. He’s actually walked around inside parts of the Space Station that are in orbit now and has a mission flag that was flown on a shuttle. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s cool as hell!

So naturally, How I Killed Pluto, is right up my alley. My inherited interest in space gave me a good background on much of what Brown talks about, but there were a few fun facts that I learned about our planets. Here are my favorite three (so far) -

1. We used to have 11 of them in our solar system. While we cry over the loss of little planet number nine, we’ve previously lost quite a few more. For 40 years our solar system consisted of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Ceres, Pallas and Juno. When the definition of planet was narrowed, Ceres, Pallas and Juno were collectively demoted to asteroids. Apparently our generation isn’t alone in mourning a planet.

2. Our days of the weeks are named after our planets. Of course this was hundreds of years ago when the Sun and the Moon were planets. What’s that you say? We have no planet named Thurs? Well, you’d be correct! Mythology translated our planets into interesting names –

Sunday – the Sun. Pretty straightforward.
Monday – the Moon. Again, saw it coming.
Tuesday – Mars. Ah, it gets exciting. Mars is the Roman god of war. The Germanic God of war is Tiw, and it is for him we named Tuesday.
Wednesday – Mercury. Famous for being the winged-shoe messenger of the gods, one of his lesser known duties was serving as carrier of the dead. Or maybe still messenger. I suppose the gods have to deliver bad news too. Anyway, his Germanic Grim Reaper cousin is Woden, who gives us Wednesday.
Thursday – Jupiter. Jupiter is king of the gods, Thor is Norse king of the gods. Ta-da. Thursday.
Friday – Venus. Even though I think Venus, the Roman goddess of love, sounds more romantic, this day is named for her Norse counterpart Frigga.
Saturday – Saturn. Of course!

3. Our planets inspire names for the elements. I kind of guessed it with Plutonium, Uranium, Mercury, and so on. But Cerium and Palladium can thank the planets for their names as well. Fun random fact for parties.

I’m sure there’s many more delightful tidbits to be discovered, but I’ll let you find those for yourself when you pick up How I Killed Pluto.

1 comment:

  1. Yepp, the universe is definitely the coolest thing around!
    When it comes to how the days of the week get their names in various Languages, here's a nice take on it:


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