Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,
Neptune Pluto, Moon.
Did you know that astronomers have their own secret language? Yes, they have special symbols for all the Solar System planets, dwarf planets, asteroids and some other objects! Astronomers used those signs since ancient times and many of them are still in use today! (We are sure that Astronomy students appreciate the symbols every time they take notes during the lectures!)
Planet symbols, just like the names of the planets themselves, came to us from Greek and Roman mythology. Would you like to learn what they are?
The Sun is represented by a circle with a dot in the middle. Does it remind you anything? How about the position of the Sun in the centre of the Solar System?
The sign for the Moon is a crescent. Though if you want to refer to a specific phase of the Moon, you can use a special sign representing each particular phase!
Mercury was a Roman god of commerce and travel. According to the Romans, Mercury (just like his Greek equivalent Hermes) wore winged hat and carried a staff.
The sign for Mercury looks like a person in a winged hat!
Venus was a Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility.
The sign for planet Venus is a symbol that looks like a mirror with a handle. It is also a modern symbol for a female.
As most of the earthlings agree that our planet is spherical (if still in doubt, read our blog How do we know that the Earth is not flat?), the sign for the Earth is a circle with a cross inside. The horizontal bar of the cross represents the Equator and the vertical bar is one of the meridians. Another common symbol for the Earth, which represents the christian symbol orb and cross, is a circle with cross on top of it.
Mars was a Roman god of war.
The sign for the planet pictures the god’s weapons: spear and shield.
Jupiter was a chief god in Roman mythology and the ruler of the sky. The god’s symbols are thunderbolt and the eagle, his sacred animal.
The sign for planet Jupiter looks a bit like a bird.
Saturn was a Roman god of agriculture. Look for Jupiter’s statue or painting in your local museum and the chances are, he will be portrayed holding his harvesting tool, a sickle!
The sign for planet Saturn looks like a sickle held upside down.
Planet Uranus, unlike other Solar System planets, was named after the Greek (not Roman) god Uranus, who was a primordial god of the sky.
The symbol of planet Uranus is a combination of symbols of the Sun and Mars.
Planet Neptune was named after the Roman god of the sea.
The symbol for planet Neptune is the sea god’s weapon, a trident.
Pluto was named after the Roman god of the underworld.
The symbol for Pluto is a combination of P and L, the first two letters in the dwarf planet’s name. Another explanation of this symbol is that it represents the initials of the American astronomer Percival Lowell, the founder of the Lowell Observatory. Percival Lowell was the first to start the systematic search for “planet X” as Pluto was referred to back then. Unfortunately, Lowell passed away in 1914 before he completed the task. Fourteen years later, young astronomer Clyde Tombaugh who worked in the Lowell Observatory, discovered planet Pluto. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
Let our space dome team know if you have any questions or comments.
And don’t forget to visit our inflatable planetarium to learn more about space and space explorers!