I’m a huge fan of science and I have a particular love of astronomy and physics. So when I came across a boy named Sagan recently, I was instantly taken with his name- it follows the familiar two-syllable ends in -n surname formula for boys, but it still stands out. Carl Sagan is a worthy and admirable namesake, and his name follows a lot of current trends. But when I thought about it, there are lots of famous astronomer names that would be a great stylistic fit with today’s popular names. Take these:
Halley- The fictional baby recently born on The Big Bang Theory was christened Halley after the comet. Sir Edmond Halley, the astronomer who first tracked the comet and lent his name to it, was born in 17th century England. He was a contemporary of Isaac Newton’s and worked with him at Cambridge.
Tycho- Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (pictured with his fabulous facial hair) was born about 100 years before Edmond Halley and the two are often compared because of their similar work on star maps. Brahe’s first name derives from a Greek name meaning “hitting the mark” and makes an upbeat, unexpected update on Tyler.
Tyson- Modern astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson is among the most famous of modern scientists, and with good reason; his tireless advocacy for science education and frequent appearances on educational television program have brought him minor celebrity status in America. Tyson, like Tycho, is a new update on the dated Tyler, though it is significantly less quirky.
Hawking-Perhaps the only modern astronomer more famous than Tyson is Stephen Hawking, who is best known for his work on black holes and general relativity and his bestselling book A Brief History of Time. Animal names like Fox and Wolf have risen in recent years for boys, so Hawking doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. Hawking also boasts a fun sound with a bit of toughness from the hardcore nickname Hawk.
Galileo- Galileo is among the most famous historic scientists on the list. His heliocentric model of the solar system at first got him in trouble with the Catholic Church, but years of subsequent scientific research vindicated his claim. Galileo shares double Ls like Lily and Layla and fits in with longer, romantic Latinate names like Matteo and Valentino.
Ptolemy- “Pt” is a strange beginning for a name, but the P is silent- it’s TAHL-uh-mee. Its meaning, “aggressive,” may not be super appealing for modern parents, but the ancient roots may be. The astronomer Ptolemy is famous for writing The Almagest one of the earliest surviving astronomical texts dated about 150 AD.
Cannon- Annie Jump Cannon is an impressive namesake; born in 1863, she was among the earliest prominent American scientists who contributed to a system of stellar classification and worked as a suffragist. Cannon brings to mind the weapon, but with names like Mace and Archer in the lexicon, it’s not out of the question.
Jocelyn Bell- Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Nobel-prize winning Northern Irish astronomer who worked to discover pulsars, highly magnetized rotating stars that emit electromagnetic radiation. I couldn’t decide between her first name (Jocelyn) or her maiden name (Bell) so I included both- and both names are among the trendiest they’ve ever been.
Sagan- The inspiration for this post, Sagan is a Polish occupational surname for someone who makes pots. He became famous for the Cosmos TV series and his work in science education.