Here’s an alphabetical list of elements named for astronomical objects, or perhaps from the gods/goddesses for which the objects were named. Most names come from planets, the moon, and the sun, since these objects are easily seen in the sky.
- Cerium – Ceres, the first asteroid to be discovered. Roman goddess of grain, similar to the Greek’s Demeter.
- Helium – Helios, the Greek name for the Sun
- Mercury – Mercury, a planet. Winged Roman god of travel.
- Neptunium – Neptune, a blue planet. Roman god of the sea.
- Palladium – Pallas, the second asteroid to be discovered. Greek name given to Athena after she killed a playmate named Pallas or, according to some legends, the giant Pallas. Palladium was also the name of a sacred image kept in the temple of Athena at Troy.
- Plutonium – Pluto, a planet. Roman god of the underworld, said to be able to render himself invisible.
- Selenium – Selene, the Greek name for the Moon.
- Tellurium – Tellus, the Latin name for the Earth. Roman earth goddess; also called Terra Mater, similar to the Greek’s Gaea.
- Uranium – Uranus, a planet. Greek god of the heavens, son of Gaea.