Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

Where does the name "Moon" come from?

My students keep asking where does the name Moon come from. Also why do we call the moon, moon. They say all the other planets that have moons have names for their moon.

The Moon is called many things from different mythologies. For example, Luna by the Romans, Selene by the Greeks. Because the Moon is so obvious it has been known since prehistoric times, so tracing its name is difficult. It developed with different languages rather than being chosen conciously.

See the Nine Planets Moon Page for more information.

The moons around other planets are collectively called moons as they hold the same position relative to their planet as The Moon does to ours - ie. they are named after the Moon. However in order to distinguish between them they also have individual names. The first moons to be discovered around another planet where the 4 largest moons of Jupiter discovered in 1609 by Galilleo Galillei so I suppose we can blame him for calling them moons! Names were then decided for them, unlike objects which have been known since prehistoric times whose names develop with a culture and language.

October 2000, Karen Masters (more by Karen Masters) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about The Moon: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

This page has been accessed 65462 times since May 15, 2002.
Last modified: February 4, 2003 11:45:21 AM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)