Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Name List: Saturn's Moons

Compilation List:
Saturn's Moons

There have been 62 moons discovered orbiting Saturn so far, 53 of which have been officially named. When the Cassini spacecraft set out for Saturn in 1997 there were only 18 known moons, and an additional 13 were discovered by telescopes based on Earth during the years it took for the craft to reach Saturn.

The craft was named for 17th Century astronomer, engineer, mathematician, and astrologer, Giovanni (Gian) Domenico Cassini (later known as Jean-Dominique in France). Cassini is noted for discovering four of Saturn's satellites, noting the division of the rings themselves, and beginning his family's work on France's first topographic map.  

Below I'll highlight the 53 named satellites of Saturn. The names link back to NASA pages about the satellites themselves and I'll briefly detail the mythological figure each was named for in the summary.
  • Mimas One of the Gigantes, the giant sons of Gaia who were born fully armored and had serpents for legs. Different sources suggest he was either slain by Ares and robbed of his armor or slain in the war against Olympians with molten iron. Prochyte, a small island near Sicily, was believed to rest on his body. Mimas is also the name of a Trojan that appeared in The Aeneid.
  • Enceladus  One of the Gigantes who was taken down by Athena's chariot and was buried under Mount Etna in Sicily. Some sources say as he was fleeing battle Athena threw the island of Sicily at him and rumbles from Etna were said to be the giant rolling under the earth.
  • Tethys Titaness of the sea, mother to major rivers in Greek mythology and mother of the Oceanids. She fostered Hera and her name was derived from Greek têthê, 'nurse' or 'grandmother'.
  • Dione Mother to Aphrodite by Zeus. Sometimes listed as Titaness, sometimes as one of the Oceanids, her origins are a little unclear. Some writers even attribute her as the mother of Dionysus. There are also suggestions that she may be a very ancient Mother Goddess figure similar to Gaia.
  • Rhea Titaness who, with her brother and husband Cronus, gave birth to the Olympians. Cronus fearing being overthrown by his children as he overthrew his father, swallowed Rhea's first five children, Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, and Hera. She gave Cronus a stone in swaddling clothes instead of her last child, Zeus whom she hid in a cave. Zeus eventually forced his father to disgorge his siblings and overthrew the Titan who was king of Gods before him.
  • Titan The Titans were the first Greek pantheon of Gods that were eventually overthrown by the Olypmians. The word is eponymous to mighty strength and power.
  • Hyperion One of the Titans, an early god light and father to Helios (the sun), Eos (the dawn), and Selene (the night). He was also assumed to have gifted mankind with sight, his name translating to 'watcher from above'.
  • Iapetus Titan who was father to Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius. His name translates to 'the piercer', from Greek iapto ('wound, pierce').
  • Erriapus Local god in southern Gaul. Not much information is known except for the discovery of a dedication stone, depicting the god's head emerging from tree foliage.
  • Phoebe Titaness associated with "bright intellect"  and the moon and grandmother of Artemis and Apollo, who were at times also called Phoebe and Phoebus respectively, and Hecate. She held the Oracle at Delphi after Themis.
  • Janus A Roman god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings.He is often depicted as having two faces, one looking to the future and one to the past. Janus is distinguished from other Roman deities by the fact that he has no Greek counterpart and is unique to Roman culture.
  • Epimetheus Foolishy ignored hos brother Prometheus' warning to not accept gifts from Zeus and took Pandora for his wife, infamous for bringing sorrow into the world. He was depicted as foolish and his name means 'hindsight' in contrast to his cleverer brother, Prometheus ('foresight').
  • Helene The moon Helene is named for Helen of Troy, the beautiful figure in mythology whose abduction launched the Trojan War.
  • Telesto One of the Oceanids, associated with great accomplishments and success.
  • Calypso Nymph that resided on the isle of Ogygia and detained the hero Odysseus there for several years. Her names means 'to conceal'.
  • Kiviuq A legendary hero in Inuit epics, the eternal wanderer. Kiviuq has many adventures and encounters all manner of strange creatures in his travels across the North.
  • Atlas Titan famous for bearing the wight of the world on his shoulders as punishment. His daughters are the Hesperides and he was tricked by Heracles in one the hero's Twelve Labors.
  • Prometheus Titan that created man from clay in Greek mythology. He was famous for the legend surrounding his punishment after stealing fire to give to man -- for this he was sentenced to be eternally bound to a rock where his liver would be eaten each day by an eagle only to regrow and be eaten again the next day. He was known to be intelligent and crafty.
  • Pandora The first human woman in Greek mythology. Zeus used her as the means to deliver misfortune to humanity after Prometheus steals fire for them. He gifts her a box for wedding to Epimetheus which released all the evils into the world.
  • Pan A satyr-like god of the woods and pastures, mountain wilds, rustic music and shepherds and flocks. He carried a flute made of bound reeds (pan-flute). His appearance caused him to be abandoned at birth, leading to the word 'panic' as a fear of the irrational. Pan also has strong associations with sex and lust.
  • Ymir In Norse mythology, Ymir was a primordial giant that is ancestor to all Frost Giants.
  • Paaliaq A fictional Inuit shaman from The Curse of the Shaman by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, who provided the other Inuit moon names.
  • Tarvos Tarvos Trigaranus was a Gaulish god depicted as bull with three cranes on its back.
  • Ijiraq Pronounced ee-yee-rok, they were changeling creatures in Inuit mythology that kidnapped children. They are said to inhabit two worlds, not quite in this and not quite in the other and no matter shape they take they cannot hide their red eyes.
  • Suttungr One of the jontar, the Frost Giants. After his parents' murder he was given the Precious Mead by the dwarves responsible and then turned his beautiful daughter into a hag and locked her into a treasure chamber to guard it. Odin eventually persuaded the now miserable daughter to part with sips of mead in exchange for sexual intimacy.
  • Mundilfari Fathered Sol the sun and Mani the moon in Norse mythology with his wife Glaur.
  • Albiorix A Celtic deity that appears to be equable to the Roman Mars.
  • Skathi Frost Giantess who donned all the trappings of war and went to Asgard to demand atonement for her father's death. The Norse gods offered her her choice of husbands from among them; however, she was to base her decision by merely looking at their feet and she mistakenly chose Njord thinking he was Baldur. The other part of her compensation was that they must make her laugh, something she never did. Loki accomplished this.
  • Siarnaq Inuit goddess of the sea and queen of the underworld, more commonly referred to as Sedna. Once she was a beautiful, young girl lured into marrying a handsome man who turned out to be a raven in disguise. Her father began to rescue her but grew frightened when the raven stirred up the ocean and threw his daughter from the kayak in surrender. Frozen by the Arctic sea her fingers fell off and turned into seals and her hands into whales and other large sea mammals. In her anger and torment she did not perish as a mortal but instead became a sea goddess, keeping whales and seals as companions.
  • Thrymr One of the Frost Giants who once stole Thor's hammer in order to exchange it for Freya as his wife. Thor disguised himself and went to the wedding in her place and killed Thrymr with his hammer when the groom presented it to his new "bride".
  • Narvi Son of Loki in Norse mythology. The Aesir, to punish the father, turned Loki's son Vali into a wolf who then tore his brother Narvi apart and the entrails were used to bind Loki. Narvi is also a name of the Norse mythological figure that was the father to Nott (personification of night) thought the moon is named after the former figure.
  • Methone One of the seven Alkyonides, daughters of the Thracian giant Alcyoneus. Their father was slain by Heracles whereupon they threw themselves into the sea and the goddess Amphitrite turned them into halcyon.
  • Pallene Another of the seven Alkyonides.
  • Polydeuces Alternative name for Pollux, twin brother of Castor, the twins that form the constellation Gemini. Their mother was Leda and in some stories it is thought they were born from a swan's egg as were their sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. The twins are patrons to sailors.
  • Daphnis A shepherd who by some accounts was son of Hermes and a nymph and in others the beloved of Hermes. He is associated with Pan, who taught him the pipes.
  • Aegir Norse giant that was god of the sea who was very much valued by the seafaring Nordic people. His name even translates to sea. He is also very much known for his magnificent feasts and strong drink.
  • Bebhionn Beautiful giantess of Celtic mythology from Maiden's Land. She sought protection from Fionn mac Cumhaill from an ugly giant who she refused to marry but Aedh, the ugly giant, managed to kill her anyway. This also appears to be the name of an early  underworld goddess, also know as Bébinn.
  • Bergelmir Frost Giant whose name translates as 'mountain yeller' and grandson of Ymir. He and his wife were the only giants to escape drowning in Ymir's blood after he was killed by Odin.
  • Bestla Mother of the Norse gods Odin, Vili, and Vé.
  • Farbauti Father of Loki. His name means cruel striker, referring to lightening. 
  • Fenrir A monstrous figure in Norse mythology that takes the form of a wolf. He is the son of Loki. There was a prophecy that the Fenrir would bring the end of the world and so the gods chained him beneath the earth with a sword between his jaws to keep him from biting. It was said that when Ragnarok, the end of the world, came Fenrir would break free and devour Odin.
  • Fornjot An ancient Norse giant that was father to Aegir, the sea, Kari, the wind, and Loge, fire.
  • Hati A wolf in Norse mythology that chases the moon across the sky. When Ragnarok comes he will swallow the moon and his father Fenrir will break free.
  • Hyrrokkin Frost giantess that was summoned by the gods to help launch a large funerary vessel for Nanna. The giantess arrived on a giant wolf with vipers for reins.
  • Kari Norse giant who was god of the wind and had power over his element as did his brothers Kari and Aegir over theirs.
  • Loge Norse giant that was god of fire. He is sometimes described as wildfire itself.
  • Skoll Norse wolf that chases the sun across the sky, who will succeed in this at Ragnarok. He is brother to Hati who chases the moon.
  • Surtur Norse giant that was foretold to be a major figure in Ragnarok, carrying a bright sword to battle Freyr and bringing down flames that will engulf the earth.
  • Greip One of the nine mothers of Heimdall, the god of Light and guardian of Asgard, he watches for Ragnarok and will signal the other gods with his horn when the day of doom comes.
  • Jarnsaxa Another of Heimdall's nine mothers.
  • Tarqeq An Inuit lunar deity whose names translates to moon. He is a mighty hunter that dwells in the sky and is also god of fertility and the morally righteous.
  • Anthe Another of the seven Alkyonides.
  • Aegaeon One of the Hecatoncheires, huge monsters with a hundred arms and fifty heads. He is sometimes referred to as Briareus and assisted the gods in their fight against the Titans.

I have tried to keep the descriptions brief but I highly recommend  exploring any of the figures that stood out to you further -- I came across tons of fascinating bits of story in researching this list!

Photo of Hyperion from NASA 

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