Who is Caelus?

As you probably know, Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and is a gaseous cyan ice giant. Uranus is visible to the naked eye, but it was not recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. The earliest definite sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as “34 Tauri”. Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on the 13th of March 1781 from the garden of his house in England and initially reported it on the 26th of April 1781 as a comet. Although Herschel continued to describe it as a comet, other astronomers had begun to suspect otherwise.

Anders Johan Lexell was the first to compute its circular orbit, leading him to the conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Johann Elert Bode described Herschel's discovery as "a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn", and it was soon accepted as a planet. In recognition of his achievement, King George III gave Herschel an annual stipend of £200, equivalent to £26,000 in 2021. Herschel wished to name the object “Georgium Sidus” (George's Star), or the "Georgian Planet" in honor of his new patron, but the proposed name was not popular outside of Britain and Hanover.

Astronomer Jérôme Lalande proposed it be named “Herschel” in honor of its discoverer. Swedish astronomer Erik Prosperin proposed the names “Astraea”, “Cybele”—now the names of asteroids—and “Neptune”, which would become the name of the next planet to be discovered. Daniel Bernoulli, suggested “Hypercronius” and “Transaturnis”. Georg Lichtenberg suggested “Austräa”, a goddess mentioned by Ovid, but who is traditionally associated with Virgo.

In March 1782 Bode proposed “Uranus”, the Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. Bode argued that the name should follow the mythology so as not to stand out from the other planets, and that “Uranus” was an appropriate name as the father of the first generation of the Titans. Just as Saturn was the father of Jupiter, the new planet should be named after the father of Saturn. Bode was, however, apparently unaware that the rest of the planets were named after the Roman deities, and Uranus was the Greek incarnation, the Roman equivalent being Caelus. With this about seven decades after its discovery, consensus was reached that the planet be named Uranus.