How did Uranus get its name? Uranus is named after the ancient Greek god of the sky, who was the father of Kronos (Saturn in Roman mythology). Most of the other planets got their names thousands of years ago, but Uranus was discovered just a few hundred years ago – William Herschel found it on March 13, 1781.
As he lived in England, Herschel originally wanted to name Uranus after his patron, King George III. He wanted to call it Georgium Sidus (George’s Star), or the Georgian Planet. Although this was a popular name, the international astronomy community didn’t think much of it, and wanted to follow the historical precedent of naming the planets after ancient Greek and Roman gods. And so, Uranus was named after father of Saturn.
There were a few holdouts, but the planet was universally accepted by 1850.
Here’s an article from the Hubble educational site about the discovery of Uranus, and here’s an article from the Smithsonian Museum.
We have recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast just about Uranus. You can access it here: Episode 62: Uranus.