Barbara Fitzgerald is an AKC Breeder of Merit and author of the column "Conversations with Champions" for the BCSA magazine, Borderlines.
The ancients looked to the heavens for guidance and the origins of universal truths. Stars of ancient mythology live on as the stars in our evening sky. Many of the Roman and Greek gods and heroes are immortalized in the names of our most visible stellar bodies; these celestial names make for unique, cosmic names for dogs.
Cosmic Dog Names From Stellar Bodies With Greek Names
- Andromeda: The nearest large galaxy to our own, the Milky Way. Andromeda is named for the daughter of Ethiopian King Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia. In the Greek myth, Cassiopeia vainly brags that her daughter is more beautiful than any of Poseidon’s daughters, the Nereids. Outraged by the insult to his daughters, Poseidon sends the sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the coast of Ethiopia. The only remedy to assuage Poseidon’s ruffled feathers is to chain the king’s daughter, Andromeda, to a rock and sacrifice her to the sea monster. Happily, Perseus happens to fly by on his winged sandals, just as Cetus is preparing to devour the young beauty. Perseus swiftly slays the sea monster and claims Andromeda as his bride. The descendants of Perseus and Andromeda are known today as the Persians.
- Anthe: A small moon of Saturn, Anthe is named for one of the Alkyonides. In the Greek myth, the Alkyonides were nymph daughters of the king of the giants, Alkyoneus. When Heracles slays their father, the nymphs cast themselves into the sea in despair. Taking mercy on them, Poseidon’s wife, Amphitrite, transforms the girls into kingfishers.
- Astro: Derived from the Greek word for star, astron, Astro is also the name of The Jetsons' pet dog.
- Atlas: One of Saturn’s inner moons, Atlas has a distinctive flying saucer shape. In Greek mythology, Atlas is the Titan god condemned to hold the heavens on his shoulders for leading the Titan gods in their war against the Olympic gods. Atlas makes a good name for a powerful, obedient male dog.
- Aurora: A naturally occurring electrical phenomenon that creates streamers of green and reddish lights in the skies near the Northern and Southern poles. Aurora is the name of the Roman goddess of the dawn.
- Betelgeuse: The ninth brightest star in the sky; it has a reddish tint. Betelgeuse is part of the Orion constellation and makes a good name for a red-coated dog.
Unique Dog Names From the Cosmos
- Atom: The basic building block of all matter.
- Calypso: A Trojan (trailing) moon of Saturn, Calypso is named for the Greek nymph who held Odysseus captive on the island of Ogygia for seven years. Calypso music is a light-hearted Caribbean genre originating from Trinidad and Tobago.
- Celeste: A French name derived from the Greek root word for celestial or heavenly.
- Comet: A small celestial body comprised of frozen gases, dust and rocks. Comet makes a cool name for any of the merle coated dogs.
- Corona: Derived from Latin, corona means “crown.” The corona is the aura that surrounds the sun and other stars in the universe.
- Cosmo: Cosmo is derived from the Greek word Cosmos, which is a philosophical term referencing the universe.
- Europa: The smallest of the Galilean moons, she was discovered by Galileo. In Greek myth, Zeus was so taken by the beauty of Europa that he disguised himself as a white bull, and when she thought to try to ride him, he whisked her away to a distant land. This distant land was named Europe in her honor.
- Galaxy: Originally referring only to the Milky Way, galaxy is derived from the Greek word for milky, galaxias.
- Gemini: One of the constellations of the Zodiac, the Gemini refers to the twins, Castor and Pollux of Greek mythology, also known as the Dioscuri. Gemini was also a series of NASA space missions, in which ten crews flew in the two-man Gemini spacecraft.
- Kelvin: Unit of thermodynamic temperature zero degrees on Kelvin (-273 degrees Celsius) is absolute zero.
- Nova: A star suddenly showing a dramatic increase in brightness, then returning to normal brightness, typically after several months.
- Quantum: The smallest chunk anything can be divided into in physics. Quantum makes a cute name for a small dog, such as a teacup or toy dog.
Roman and Greek Names of Moons, Planets, and Constellations
- Helene: Helene is a moon of Saturn, named after Helen of Troy. In Greek myth, the abduction of Helen, by Paris, begins the Trojan War. Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, is also known as the face that launched a thousand ships.
- Jupiter: The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter is named after the Roman version of the Greek god, Zeus.
- Leo: The lion constellation of the Zodiac, Leo references the Nemean Lion, whose hide was impervious to weapons. The first of Heracles twelve labors was to slay the beast. Heracles accomplished this by wrestling it to death, then skinned is hide for his characteristic mantle.
- Luna: Luna is the Roman goddess of the moon; her Greek counterpart is Selene.
- Mars: The red planet, Mars is named for the Roman version of the Greek god of war, Ares.
- Mercury: The smallest planet and closest to the sun, Mercury is named for the Roman god of messages, eloquence, commerce, travel, trickery and thieves. He also escorts souls to the Underworld. Mercury’s Greek counterpart of Hermes depicted with a winged helmet and sandals.
- Neptune: Farthest planet from the sun and the fourth largest, Neptune is a cold dark gaseous planet. Named for the Roman god of the oceans, his Greek counterpart is Poseidon.
- Pisces: Two large Syrian river fish assisted with the birth of Aphrodite from the sea foam and later helped to rescue her and Eros from the monster Typhoeus. Their reward was immortality in the heavens as the Pisces constellation in the Zodiac.
- Pluto: A dwarf planet, Pluto is smaller than our moon. Pluto is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Hades, ruler of the Underworld.
- Procyon: Procyon is The Little Dog Star. Procyon, in Greek, means "before the dog," as this star rises shortly before Sirius, the Dog Star. Procyon is the eighth brightest star in the sky.
- Rigel: Part of the Orion constellation, Rigel is the brightest star in Orion. A frequent destination for the USS Starship Enterprise, Rigel is the 7th brightest star on our sky.
- Saturn: The second largest planet in the solar system, Saturn is a gas giant with rings encompassing its equator and sixty to moons in its orbit. Saturn is named for the Roman god of agriculture; his Greek counterpart is Cronus. Under Cronus’ rule, mankind enjoyed a golden age of prosperity.
- Scorpio: From the Greek word Skorpios, meaning scorpion, this constellation is tied to the Orion constellation through mythology. When the hunter, Orion, boasted that he could slay all of the animals of earth, Earth goddess, Gaia, sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion and prevent the carnage. Following Orion’s demise, the gods placed him, his dog Sirius, and the scorpion in the heavens. Orion and the Scorpio are never seen in the sky at the same time.
- Sirius: The Dog Star and brightest star in the sky, Sirius was the faithful hunting companion of Orion. After Orion's death, Sirius wandered the Earth mourning the loss of his master. The gods took pity on the lonely cannid, and allowed him to join his master's constellation in the heavens.
- Tarvos: A moon of Saturn named after the Gaulish mythological deity, depicted as a bull with three cranes riding on his back.
- Taurus: Named for Tauros, the Cretan Bull of Heracles’ Twelve Labors, Taurus is one of the constellations of the Zodiac. Following Tauros capture by Heracles, he then set the bull free in an Athenian countryside. Here the bull terrorized the denizens of Marathon until he was killed by Theseus. The gods made Tauros immortal, by placing the fallen bull in the heavens. Tauros’ union with Queen Pasiphae of Crete produced the Minotaur.
- Titan: The largest of Saturn’s moons, the Titans were the predecessors of the Olympic gods.
- Virgo: A constellation in the Zodiac, Virgo refers to the virgin goddess of justice, Astraia. Distressed by the increasing lawlessness of the Bronze Age of mankind, Zeus took mercy on Astraia and removed her to the heavens.
- Ursa: Ursa Major is the constellation of stars commonly referred to as the Big Dipper.
- Vega: The brightest star of the constellation Lyra, Vega is the fifth brightest star in the sky.
- Venus: The second planet from the sun, Venus is named for the Roman goddess of beauty and love. Her Greek counterpart is Aphrodite.
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