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On July 12, 2022 the first full-color images were released from the James Webb Space Telescope. The public response to these striking images, and the stories they tell, is a reminder of the fascination with astronomical topics.

Astronomical objects and ideas have long been a source of inspiration for brand names. This is not surprising, given the vastness, power, beauty and mystery associated with astronomical phenomena.

What is more peaceful than the night sky from a dark location? What is more powerful than a supernova? What is more cloaked in mystery than a black hole? What is more beautiful than a comet tail?

In this article, I take a look at the use of astronomical terms and objects, and the role they play in domain names. I look at how popular the names of the major planets, the largest solar system moons, and a selection of the better-known minor objects are in domain and business names.

I illustrate real world applications through a selection of vehicle names based on astronomy and space terms.

A second article will look at stars, constellations and galaxies.

Astronomical Terms

Some of the basic terms of astronomy are defined below.
  • A star is a self-luminous gaseous body, like our Sun.
  • A planet is a body of significant size that orbits a star.
  • The solar system is the combination of planets, satellites (moons), minor bodies, gas and dust in orbit around our Sun. If it is a similar system in orbit about another star we call it a planetary system.
  • A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, planets, minor bodies, gas and dust, typically containing billions to hundreds of billions of stars. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way.
  • A constellation, such as Orion, is an apparent grouping of stars, as well as a region of the sky around that grouping.
  • The universe is everything there is, perhaps 100 billion galaxies and all of their associated objects. Some theorize parallel universes. The term multiverse has been used by astronomical theorists for some time, and has recently been adapted to metaverse use as well.
A number of these terms are frequently used as part of business names. According to OpenCorporates the term star is part of more than 190,000 active business and organization listings, while galaxy is found in almost 15,000.

Our solar system, and supposedly the systems around other stars, contain in addition to the major planets, a number of smaller objects.
  • A minor planet, sometimes called an asteroid also orbits about the central star, but is smaller in size. A subclass of minor planets are called dwarf planets.
  • A comet has a composition of frozen gases and dust, and is sometimes called a ‘dirty snowball’. While the solid part of a comet is typically only 10 km or so, the tails of the comet, consisting of ejected dust and gas, can stretch to hundreds of millions of kilometres in some cases.
  • While you probably think of satellites as artificial bodies in orbit, strictly speaking a satellite is any object, natural or manmade, that orbits a planet. Earth’s Moon is a natural satellite, as are the ‘moons’ that orbit other stars. Strictly speaking we should reserve the term Moon for the Earth’s natural satellite, but it is common to speak of, for example, the moons of Saturn.
  • Smaller than minor planets and comets, are meteoroids and smaller still interplanetary dust. A meteor refers to the light produced when a meteoroid enters a planetary atmosphere, while one that is able to reach the surface of a planet is called a meteorite.
Other astronomical terms are also relatively common in everyday language and in brand names.
  • A shorthand referring to things astronomical, astro.
  • Celestial is in top 1% of all words in popularity, and refers to the sky or space.
  • The Moon has influenced societies forever, and the term lunar refers to anything related to the moon.
  • Some stars quickly brighten, and that is called a nova from a word meaning new star.
  • A supernova, while in some ways similar in appearance to a nova when viewed from Earth, is actually a different astronomical event. Many supernovae are due to almost unimaginably energetic stellar collapse and ‘explosions’.
  • There are several types of black holes, but a stellar black hole is an incredibly dense remnant of a collapsed star, so dense that even light could not escape.
  • A pulsar is usually associated with a stellar remnant that is less dense than a black hole, a neutron star. Neutron stars are still unimaginably dense objects. As the star collapses to become a neutron star, it rotates faster and faster. Neutron stars with strong magnetic fields can produce radio waves, that appear as periodic bursts. The famous Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times per second.
  • The word quasar comes from quasi-stellar object. We now know that quasars are a type of incredibly luminous active galaxies.
  • Since the Earth’s axis is tilted, in summer (for the northern hemisphere) we get Sun’s illumination more directly, and in winter less directly. The astronomical term solstice refers to the extreme positions, at about June 21 and December 21. The term equinox, means ‘equal day and night’, and falls approximately March 21 and September 21.
Knowing the astronomical meaning of each term can help us to use that term appropriately in a brand. For example, it makes sense to use nova in applications related to something new, or changed. Pulsar could find several uses, from electromagnetic applications to periodic patterns, or precision timing. A star has many connotations possible, and is also one of the simpler and more memorable astronomical terms.

I wondered how frequently astronomical terms were used in business names, and how many domain name sales were on record for each term. I show below the dollar volume of domain name sales with the name as a prefix, exact term and suffix, using data from NameBio. The table also includes the number of extensions registered with the exact term (data from dotDB), and the number of active business and organization names that include the term, using OpenCorporates.

Term
$ Volume Prefix
$ Volume Exact
$ Volume Suffix
TLDs
Business Names
star
$996,600​
$300,500​
$894,500​
428​
190,803​
planet
$289,700​
$18,300​
$541,700​
405​
24,790​
galaxy
$87,000​
$1,801,000​
$62,500​
394​
14,991​
universe
$13,900​
$1,500​
$122,600​
353​
6,778​
constellation
$5,330​
$11,200​
$570​
175​
2,983​
comet
$2,540​
$100​
$3,330​
220​
3,071​
meteor
$29,600​
$6,530​
$120​
188​
1,365​
sun
$622,300​
$88,200​
$137,000​
394​
80,936​
moon
$157,500​
$35,500​
$164,900​
408​
33,796​
lunar
$29,300​
$1,930​
$2,190​
295​
2,862​
nova
$215,200​
$113,100​
$218,400​
466​
97,191​
astro
$98,000​
$1,830​
$5,310​
358​
4,773​
celestial
$8,310​
$0​
$0​
173​
3,975​
equinox
$1,840​
$5,560​
$100​
209​
3,116​
solstice
$1,760​
$0​
$0​
170​
1,876​
quasar
$310​
$3,310​
$0​
213​
1,409​

We see that in business names, star, sun, moon and nova are the most used terms, although every term from the table is in use by at least 1000 different businesses or organizations.

It should be kept in mind that NameBio is only a subset of all domain name sales, perhaps representing 80% of retail sales. Still the dollar volume gives us some sense of relative sales in different names.

A term like ’astro’ is normally the first part of the name, while ‘universe’ almost always appears as a suffix. Terms like ’nova’ and ‘star’ find roughly equal use in prefix and suffix positions.

’Sun’ and ‘universe’ find use in both positions, with prefix more common in ‘sun’. Probably solar energy companies are the major users of this term.

‘Celestial’ seems like an elegant term, but with surprisingly few sales recorded in the NameBio database. I was somewhat surprised ‘equinox’ did not have more sales and use, although possibly not as easily spelled as the other astronomical terms.

Major Planets

Traditionally there were 9 major planets, and a much larger number of minor planets, sometimes called asteroids. As more and more minor planets similar in size and nature to Pluto were discovered, it was proposed to remove Pluto from the list of major planets. The controversial move was approved by the International Astronomical Union, the governing body for astronomical decisions including naming.

Many of the planets were known in ancient times, since the unaided eye can readily see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The term planet means wanderer, because planets seem to slowly move, or wander, relative to the backdrop of ‘fixed’ stars. Uranus was discovered in 1781, Neptune in 1846, and Pluto in 1930.

In desired extensions, all of the major planets are attractive as brand names. I show below dollar volume domain name sales data, along with the number of registered extensions, and use in business names, using the same format as the earlier table.

Planet
$ Volume Prefix
$ Volume Exact
$ Volume Suffix
TLDs
Business Names
Mercury
$42,000​
$1,104,000​
$3,800​
332​
10081​
Venus
$24,700​
$810​
$14,600​
301​
8018​
Earth
$335,400​
$857,600​
$173,300​
367​
30984​
Mars
$52,600​
$8,150​
$6,270​
397​
9357​
Jupiter
$15,100​
$6,890​
$1,230​
263​
8206​
Saturn
$1,800​
$190,100​
$310​
225​
3587​
Uranus
$0​
$7,700​
$0​
174​
684​
Neptune
$9,500​
$12,400​
$400​
221​
6530​
Pluto
$5,600​
$57,800​
$1,400​
221​
1511​

Often one sale accounts for much of the dollar volume, for example Mercury.com sold for $1.1 million in 2000, The name is in use by a FinTech company of the same name.

The $190,000 sale of Saturn.pl accounts for most of the dollar volume in that name. It is by far the highest-value sale in that extension in the NameBio database. The name does not seem in active use when I checked.

Earth is, as expected, a very popular term, in all positions.

If we look at popularity in business names, after Earth with 30,984 listings, the next most popular are Mercury at 10,081, Mars at 9357 and Jupiter at 8206.

All major planets are heavily registered, with Mars the most popular with 397 TLDs, slightly more than Earth at 367.

In both business use and registered extensions, Uranus is the least popular planet.

Natural Satellites or Moons

Even within our own solar system, there are a large number of moons, more properly referred to as natural satellites.

At time of writing, Jupiter had at least 79 moons, of which 53 had received names. Saturn probably has at least 82 moons, although only 53 are currently confirmed. Uranus adds 27, and Neptune 14, although the true number is probably significantly more in both cases.

I wondered whether the better known of these natural satellites found much use in business names, and collected the data shown in the following table for the 10 largest moons (satellites) in our solar system.

In the list, Moon mean’s Earth’s natural satellite.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, with Rhea also a Saturnian moon.

Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa are the so-called Galilean moons of Jupiter, since they were viewed by Galileo shortly after the invention, or reinvention, of the astronomical telescope.

Triton and Oberon are satellites of Uranus, while Triton is a satellite of Neptune.

Satellite
$ Volume Prefix
$ Volume Exact
$ Volume Suffix
TLDs
Business Names
Ganymede
$180​
$1,800​
$0​
80​
252​
Titan
$66,200​
$13,700​
$31,200​
351​
15,850​
Callisto
$2,350​
$70,000​
$0​
130​
743​
Io
$245,000​
$4,700​
$1,200,000​
230​
15,188​
Moon
$157,500​
$35,500​
$164,900​
408​
33,796​
Europa
$104,900​
$6,730​
$7,140​
396​
14,376​
Triton
$14,400​
$105​
$0​
226​
5,401​
Titania
$0​
$0​
$0​
93​
329​
Rhea
$960​
$0​
$120​
125​
1,375​
Oberon
$0​
$0​
$0​
122​
775​

In terms of business names, Moon, Titan, Io, and Europa are much more popular than the others. It is likely that many of the names including io have nothing to do with the Jupiter satellite, however, but simply are giving the name a lively ending or an abbreviation for input-output.

Europa is registered in almost as many extensions as Moon, and Titan is also registered in more than 350 different extensions.

Minor Planets

There are a huge number of minor planets in our solar system, most either in the asteroid belt generally between Mars and Jupiter, or in the outer regions of the solar system, the region near Pluto and beyond, called the Kuiper Belt.

At time of writing, there were about 617,000 minor planets with assigned numbers and orbital determinations, while the total number of discovered small objects, that includes comets as well, is more than 1.2 million.

I thought I would take a look at some of the larger of the minor objects and see if they are used in business names.

Planet
$ Volume Prefix
$ Volume Exact
$ Volume Suffix
TLDs
Business Names
Ceres
$565​
$110​
$0​
188​
3371​
Vesta
$0​
$1,900​
$46,500​
281​
3271​
Pallas
$0​
$0​
$0​
94​
1309​
Juno
$4,450​
$0​
$590​
247​
2204​
Eris
$923​
$3,800​
$0​
165​
694​
Quaoar
$0​
$0​
$0​
29​
14​
Makemake
$0​
$0​
$0​
80​
41​
Haumea
$0​
$1,900​
$0​
45​
56​
Orcus
$0​
$0​
$0​
58​
96​

I included the first four of the asteroid belt minor planets discovered: Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta.

I also included 5 of the likely Dwarf Planets from the region near Pluto or beyond: Eris, Quaoar, Makemake, Haumea and Orcus. Pluto would also be on the Dwarf Planet list, but it was considered in our Major Planets table.

In terms of business use, Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, Juno and Eris are much more popular than the others, probably partly because they are easier to pronounce and spell. With more than 3000 active businesses, Ceres and Vesta are pretty strongly used names.

While some of the names lower on the list are not nearly as popular, it should be kept in mind that the outer Dwarf Planets were discovered within the past two decades, whereas Ceres was discovered in 1801 and Vesta in 1807.

While their names are not well known, these outer Dwarf Planets are significant in size. For example, the largest, Quaoar, is about 1120 km in diameter, making it similar in size to Pluto. Its name derives from Tongva mythology, representing the creation force for the universe.

The next largest, Makemake, is about 60% the size of Pluto. The name comes from the creator of humanity from the legends of the native people of Easter Island. Although not pronounced that way, the name Makemake is easily remembered as a repetition of the word ‘make’, possibly making it more memorable as a potential brand. That may account for the 80 TLDs registered in the term.

Exoplanets

I have not discussed planets around stars other than our Sun, so called exoplanets. This is a rapidly developing branch of astronomy, and at time of writing, there were 5108 confirmed exoplanets, with that number increasing rapidly. This is only a tiny percentage of the true number, and it is expected that half or more of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy probably have planetary systems.

Generally speaking, exoplanets are named with a letter designation tagged on to the astronomical name for the star the exoplanet orbits. Therefore they have names like Beta Pictoris b and HR 8799 c. As I don’t see any implications for domain names, I did not consider exoplanets further.

Astronomical Brands Popular In Vehicles

Vehicle models and divisions make extensive use of astronomical names. When I was growing up my family had an old Mercury. Mercury was one of the main divisions of the Ford Motor Company. The Mercury Comet model combined two astronomical terms.

Later in life I would own a couple of Saturn vehicles. The Saturn Astra model doubled up on astronomical names, since ‘astra’ means star in Latin.

The GM Equinox is a popular SUV that derives its name from an astronomical term meaning equal day and night.

The Chevrolet Vega was named after the brightest star in the constellation Lyra.

The Dodge Aries, part of the K-car pair, was named after a popular zodiac constellation.

The Ford Taurus is named after one of the best known zodiac constellations.

The Nissan Pulsar is named after a special kind of star that pulsates electromagnetic radiation as it spins rapidly.

The Chevrolet Nova is another vehicle named after a type of star, in this case one with a bright outburst.

Toyota sold a model called the Solara, a term meaning ‘of the sun’.

Ford sold a series of minivans, each of which ended with the term ‘star’, including the Windstar, Freestar and Aerostar.

Produced until a few years ago, the Mitsubishi Eclipse is a sports car named after an astronomical event.

You might think of Europe, but the Lotus Europa was named after Europa, one of the four bright natural satellites of Jupiter.

Some names that you might not first recognize as astronomical, actually have clear astronomical roots. The name of the automaker Subaru is based on a Japanese term that could mean unite, but also is the name for the Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Aries. The common name in English-speaking countries for the Pleiades is the Seven Sisters. The Subaru nameplate is a stylized version of the star cluster.

The Chrysler brand symbol contains a star, as do many other logos in different sectors.

Of course it is not just cars that build on astronomical term brands. Mercury Marine is a major manufacturer of outboard boat motors. Star Alliance is a linkage between different airlines to assist global travel.

Next Week

In the second part of this article next week, I will look at data for some of the better known stars and constellations, and a few well-known galaxies.

I will also consider emerging sectors that may drive future demand for astronomical-themed names.

Please don’t promote a list of your names, but if you have one great astronomical domain name in your portfolio, or have sold one, feel free to mention it in the discussion, and comment on why you think it is strong name.

Please share your views on names built on astronomical terms, including any terms that I have left out. I will include a selection of suggested additions in the second article. For example, nebula is a term which could be included.

I mentioned various auto lines and models with astronomical names. Please share some of your favourite examples from other sectors in the discussion.

It is a beautiful and amazing universe out there.


Thanks to NameBio, OpenCorporates and dotDB as sources of data used in this article.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Impact
141
Thanks a lot. Very useful, helpful, and informative. Much appreciated.
 
Thanks, Bob. Very informative. I think these names make for excellent brands since they can be used for so many different things and often sound exclusive.
 

bmugford

www.DataCube.comTop Contributor
Impact
39,743
I think space related terms make great brands, especially for tech companies.

One of my favorite short domains I own is Kosmic.com. Sure it is not Cosmic, but what can you do?

Brad
 

karmaco

Top Contributor
Impact
11,103
This might be my fave article by you Mr. Bob. Love space names, terms and space in general is fascinating . They also might become more valuable due to the metaverse.
 

comRaid

Established Member
Impact
328
Thank you Sir . Most names of the planet-moons are also popular personal names. So that also might be a factor in the number of related registrations. I am surprised to see pluto ranking low. Actually pluto sounds more brand worthy than any of his big brothers.
 
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FMy

NameRobin.comEstablished Member
Impact
299
Great post and very timely as well. Thanks.

To add, along with all the words you've analyzed, perhaps "verse" as a suffix should go with it as well? Just a thought.
 

eyedomainous

BizcardTV.comTop Contributor
Impact
1,128
Stellar report, Bob.
(Now I'm thinking... 'Stellar' should also rank well in the prefix column.)

Fun Fact: Despite being taken in dozens of extensions, NameBio only shows 1 sale for 'Extraterrestrial'.
 

HotKey

Made in CanadaTop Contributor
Impact
10,302
Stellar report, Bob.
(Now I'm thinking... 'Stellar' should also rank well in the prefix column.)

Fun Fact: Despite being taken in dozens of extensions, NameBio only shows 1 sale for 'Extraterrestrial'.
Probably because it's not a great branding term, exciting as it is.

Agreed, stellar story Bob. The Webb images prompted me to related hand-reg a domain in dot-xyz actually, although momentum in space seems to die quickly just because it's so far beyond our realm of comprehension and pretty pictures come and go; I think some terms could be worth an investment. Mine was Stephans.

Some related threads you guys might be interested in:

https://www.namepros.com/threads/nasa-is-naming-rocks-etc-on-mars-in-navajo-language.1231674/
https://www.namepros.com/threads/does-domain-including-galaxies-or-stars-name-sell.1203992/

One of my favorite short domains I own is Kosmic.com. Sure it is not Cosmic, but what can you do?

Brad
Don't be humble, that is kick-ass! I'd imagine asking if you've had any inquires on that domain is redundant.
 

Bob Hawkes

Top Contributor
NameTalent
Impact
31,625
Thank you for all the great views, suggestions and information, everyone!

One of my favorite short domains I own is Kosmic.com. Sure it is not Cosmic, but what can you do?
What a great brandable, Brad. And how did I forget to include cosmic in the terms? I will be sure and list it in the supplementary table in Part 2 article.

They also might become more valuable due to the metaverse.
I agree. There are strong parallels between the universe and metaverse, and it was inspiration for naming of the metaverse.

Most names of the planet-moons are also popular personal names. So that also might be a factor
Yes, good point. Sometimes the names are inspired by astronomy, but other times unrelated. Fun (true) story: a couple of my students from long ago, that ended were both really into astronomy and go married, named their children after solar system natural satellite names.

To add, along with all the words you've analyzed, perhaps "verse" as a suffix should go with it as well
Perhaps. Although I agree it is a superb component of a name, I don't necessarily see it as predominantly astronomical, while accepting the universe connection of course.

Stellar' should also rank well in the prefix column.
Agree. Added to the list I will analyze in Part 2. I see it has a fair number of NameBio listed sales.

Fun Fact: Despite being taken in dozens of extensions, NameBio only shows 1 sale for 'Extraterrestrial'.
Somewhat surprising. I did consider including it, may do so in Part 2.

Some related threads you guys might be interested in:
Thank you so much for those links, @HotKey!

As you probably guessed, this was one of my favourite topics to write about.

Bob

PS If suggestions for astronomical words for me to include, it would be most helpful to submit them by end of weekend, as I hope to finalize the second article by late Monday or early Tuesday next week.
 
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elevator

DNCombo.comTop Contributor
Impact
1,324
@Bob Hawkes Thank you so much you are a gem in domain industry.
You are making History
Cheers.
 

FolioTeam

Brandsq.comTop Contributor
Impact
6,757
These kind of names usually make great brand names as they are both universal and otherworldly at the same time. Hence, why great names in this niche are hard to find.

Thanks for yet another enjoyable piece.
 
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Revisiting

Established Member
Impact
298
I've never complimented you Bob, But that is a nice write-up.
Astronomical terms are very brandable obviously because they are both memorable and usually used in TM classes outside of their descriptive (factual) identity
 

BrandTello

Upgraded Member
Impact
7
Thanks for the insights... I got.... Arcturio(.)com, ArcturusAcademy (.) com.. Univercle (.) com...which are high rated under the brandable category.
 
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comRaid

Established Member
Impact
328
Agree. Added to the list I will analyze in Part 2. I see it has a fair number of NameBio listed sales.
Hope "orbit" is the list of terms.

I just found that LagrangePoint.com (reference: James Webb Telescope location) was registered this year and is on sale.