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    Re: Arabic "Al" and star names
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Nov 7, 18:17 -0800

    Fred, you wrote:
    "Not sure what "the Georgian" means."
    
    That was the common name for the planet Uranus as listed, for example, in the 
    Nautical Almanac during most of the period from its discovery through the 
    first half of the nineteenth century. It honored King George III of Great 
    Britain. William Herschel, who discovered it, chose the name as a specific 
    break from the classical tradition. Unsurprisingly, astronomers from other 
    European countries did not approve of naming a planet after a British 
    monarch. They wanted to name it after an old European deity for consistency. 
    By about 1850 that viewpoint won out. Uranus still has a remnant of unique 
    non-classical nomenclature. Unlike the other planets, the moons of Uranus are 
    named for characters from literature, mostly Shakespeare, instead of 
    characters from classical mythology. I found that very confusing when I was 
    ten years old!
    
    It's funny how people get carried away over these "classical" names. Since the 
    IAU has become responsible it, there is no more whimsy in naming of planets 
    and moons. In a way, that's too bad. Unlike the long tradition of 
    exploration, where discoverers and navigators had first rights at naming 
    things, the names of craters and features on the other planets and the moons 
    of the Solar System are named by committee. Names selected by the Apollo 
    astronauts for features that significantly impacted their navigation have 
    been expunged as inappropriate. The fascination with classical names 
    sometimes even extends to the first planet discovered by modern science, the 
    planet Earth. There are quite a few folks, a little eccentric in outlook, who 
    are bothered by the name "Earth" since it is not sufficiently international 
    (as if classical Greek and Latin names are international?). They sometimes 
    insist on calling the Earth "Terra" when referring to it as a planet.
    
    I'm attaching a couple of images from old Nautical Almanacs with data for "The 
    Georgian" from 1850 and the "Georgian Planet" from 1793.
    
    -FER
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