rōma  aeterna latīna ubīque

Latin Lives On…in the night sky.

Planet: An astronomical body that orbits a star and does not shine with its own light.     

While studying the sky, ancient astronomers observed that, although most of the stars maintain fixed relative positions, there were a few heavenly bodies that obviously changed their positions in relation to each other and to the greater number of so-called “fixed” stars.  The most obvious of these were the sun and the moon; five others also seemed to revolve around the Earth at different rates.  

These five (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) were called by the Greeks asteres planetai (wandering stars) or planetai (wanderers).   The Latin term used in place of the Greek was stellae errantes (wandering stars); but Late Latin borrowed the Greek term in the plural form, planetae, of which the singular was planeta. By way of Old French, Middle English borrowed this word in the fourteenth century to give us our modern word "planet".


With the exception of Earth, all of the planets in our solar system have names from Greek or Roman mythology. This tradition was continued when Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (since 2006 no longer ranked as a planet) were discovered in more modern times.

  • Mercury is the god of commerce, travel and thievery in Roman mythology. The planet probably received this name because it moves so quickly across the sky.
  • Venus is the Roman goddess of love and beauty. The planet is aptly named since it makes a beautiful sight in the sky, with only the Sun and the Moon being brighter.
  • Earth is the only planet whose English name does not derive from Greek/Roman mythology. The name derives from Old English and Germanic.
  • Mars is the Roman god of War. The planet probably got this name due to its red color.
  • Jupiter is the King of the Gods in Roman mythology, making the name a good choice for what is by far the largest planet in our solar system.
  • Saturn is the Roman god of agriculture.
  • Uranus is the ancient Greek deity of the Heavens, the earliest supreme god.
  • Neptune, is the Roman god of the Sea. Given the beautiful blue color of this planet, the name is an excellent choice!
  • Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld in Roman mythology. Perhaps Pluto received its name because it's so far from the Sun that it is in perpetual darkness.

The five ancient planets, as well as the sun and the moon,  were all  believed to have a special influence over a designated day of the week: First day, Sol or the Sun; Second day, Luna or the Moon; Third day, Mars; Fourth day, Mercury; Fifth day, Jupiter; Sixth day, Venus; and the Seventh day, Saturn.

Zodiac Names Come from Latin


The ancients also strongly believed that the planets were particularly important in the day-to-day affairs of mankind. Astrology, the study of a planet’s position among the stars at the exact moment of one’s birth, was supposed to give information about his/her fate, and the general character of a person was thought to be determined by which planet she/he was “born under”.  Such beliefs continue in modern times and many news- papers include a daily horoscope organized by the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. In 2011 there was much publicity about adding a 13th Zodiac sign in an effort to align astrology with contemporary astronomy; by mid 2012, the proposed Ophiuchus, or snake handler, has not been universally adopted.


Aries - March 21 - April 19    >>>  Ram
Taurus - April 20 - May 20    >>> Bull
Gemini - May 21 - June 20     
>>>  Twins
Cancer - June 21 - July 22   
>>>  Crab
Leo - July 23 - August 22     
>>>  Lion
Virgo - August 23 - September 22   
>>>  Virgin
Libra - September 23 - October 22   
>>>  Scales
Scorpio - October 23 - November 21   
>>>  Scorpion
Sagittarius - November 22 - December 21   
>>>  Archer
Capricorn - December 22 - January 19    
>>>  Goat
Aquarius - Jan 23 - February 18   
>>>  Water-carrier
Pisces - February 19 - March 20    
>>>  Fishes