why do we call the sun the sun

Although itвs a star в and our local star at that в our sun doesnвt have a generally accepted and unique proper name in English. We English speakers always just call it
the sun. You sometimes hear English-speakers use the name Sol for our sun. If you ask in a public forum like this one, youвll find many who swear the sunвs proper name is Sol. But, in English, in modern times, Sol is more a poetic name than an official one. Youвll never see Sol used by astronomers in their scientific writings, for example, unless they are writing in Spanish, Portuguese, or Swedish where sol translates as sun. Solis is Latin for sun. Sol is the Roman equivalent of the Greek sun god Helios. And maybe in earlier times English-speakers did use these names. , the first cited use of Sol as a proper name for the sun is the 1450 Ashmole Manuscript Treatise on Astrology, which stated: Sol is hote dry but not as mars is. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the international body of astronomers that, since 1922, celestial bodies.


And the IAU does recognize for the major planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and Earthвs satellite (Moon). It also officially names such as Pluto and Ceres, of planets, (asteroids), and в beyond our solar system в distant, the that orbit them, and vast. But, to my knowledge, the IAU has never officially sanctioned a name for our sun. Just to confuse things, though, the IAU suggests we all use, rather than the lowercase sun and moon. As a result, most astronomers do capitalize these words (frequently along with other non-standard capitalizations such as Galaxy, Solar System and Universe), but most media organizations (which tend to use media stylebooks such as the ) donвt. So people donвt agree on whether the sun has its own name, or what that name might be. Meanwhile, the sun does have a symbol thatвs exclusively its own.


The sunвs symbol is a circle with a dot in the center в used in mathematical formulas. If it is nameless, our sun has company. There are several thousand stars visible to the eye, and only a few hundred of them have actual names, as opposed to designations. Astronomers use the Greek alphabet to order visible stars in each constellation, according to their brightness. To identify stars invisible to the eye, astronomers turn to star catalogs, which assign a number to each star according to its position in the sky. Nowadays, we know there are planets orbiting many if not most stars. Most extrasolar planets havenвt yet been given proper names either,. When all is said and done, whether you believe our sun has a name comes down to the language you speak, to whom you give the authority to name objects in space, and to your personal preference. Bottom line: The International Astronomical Union hasnвt sanctioned an official name for our sun, and our sun doesnвt have a generally accepted and unique proper name in the English language.


But, in history and in other languages, the sun does have various proper names. All the other planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, etc. ) have names. What's the Earth's name? The other moons in the solar system have names too (Phobos, Io, Titan, etc. ). What's our moon's name? Our galaxy has a name: the Milky Way. So what's the name of our solar system? The name of our planet is the Earth. The name of our moon is the Moon. The name of our solar system is the Solar System. Notice that I capitalize them, because when used as names, they are proper nouns. This also helps us distinguish between the planet Earth and earth (meaning soil), between the Earth's Moon and moon (meaning the natural satellite of a planet), and between our Solar System and any other solar systems (since any system containing a star and a planet or a planet-forming disk can be called a solar system. ) This is the English language usage approved by the, the body in charge of naming celestial objects.


It may seem odd that these important objects don't have names, but if you think about it, it just reinforces their importance. For example, the Moon is the Moon, not just any moon. It requires no other name, because it's the most important moon! You may read or hear people using Luna for the Moon, or Terra or Gaia for the Earth, or Sol for the Sun, but in English-speaking countries, these are poetic terms, often seen in science fiction stories, but not used by astronomers in scientific writing. In some countries where Romance languages are spoken, these terms are the official names. It's also interesting to note that most astronomers do not call our galaxy the Milky Way in technical writing--they call it the Galaxy. This page was last updated June 28, 2015.

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