Moons, stars, and other celestial objects are notorious for having beautiful names inspired by mythology, nature, or history.

Looking at a list of moon names can be a great source of inspiration to pick a name for a newborn baby, a pet, or a character in a novel. There are all kinds of names to choose from. Some sound rhythmical, others are mysterious, and they are all unique.

Strictly speaking, only Earth’s satellite is called the Moon. All the objects for the other planets are known as natural satellites. However, the term is so widely used that it is ok to refer to all of them as moons.

How are moons named?

A moon is a natural satellite orbiting a planet. They are formed out of material left by a big asteroid impact or they are captured by the planet’s gravity.

In modern days, moons are named by the person or group that discovered them. It is strongly suggested to follow the tradition to name them after mythological characters. This convention was started by Galileo, an Italian astronomer that discovered four of Jupiter’s moons and made other big contributions to astronomy.

The exception to this rule are Uranus’ moons which are named after literary characters, mainly from Shakespeare’s work.

When a new moon is discovered, it receives a designation that starts with an “S/” followed by the year of discovery, the initial of its parent planet, and the order in which it was discovered for that year. So, for example, if a new moon was potentially discovered in Neptune in 2015, and it was the second moon discovered for the planet that year, it would have received the designation S/2015 N 2.

This designation is used while astronomers study the object in more detail to confirm that is really a satellite. If it passes this process and is confirmed, then it can receive a proper name.

Moon Names

The following table contains the complete list of moon names, the planet they belong to, and the year they were discovered.

There are currently 168 moons with assigned proper names. More than 30 other candidates are being studied at the moment to confirm their status as satellites but those have been removed from this list. For a list that contains those, check this page.

It is possible more moons are yet to be discovered. The most recent candidates were discovered on Saturn in 2019 thanks to images sent by the Cassini spacecraft as it orbited the planet. They are too small to be seen by Earth’s telescopes.

With that discovery, Saturn became the planet with the most moons in the Solar system with a total of 82.

The planets with the fewest are Mercury and Venus with zero as they are too close to the Sun and are not big enough to have one.

The list is ordered by the parent planets starting from Earth.

As for the meanings of the moon names, they all come from characters of Greek mythology. The only exceptions are the Moon which comes from the early Germanic word for “month”, and the moons of Uranus that are named after literature characters, particularly from the works of William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope.

At the bottom of the table, you will find that the moons of dwarf planets have also been included.

Moon namePlanetDiscovered
MoonEarth
PhobosMars1877
DeimosMars1877
IoJupiter1610
EuropaJupiter1610
GanymedeJupiter1610
CallistoJupiter1610
AmaltheaJupiter1892
HimaliaJupiter1904
ElaraJupiter1905
PasiphaeJupiter1908
SinopeJupiter1914
LysitheaJupiter1938
CarmeJupiter1938
AnankeJupiter1951
LedaJupiter1974
ThebeJupiter1979
AdrasteaJupiter1979
MetisJupiter1979
CallirrhoeJupiter2000
ThemistoJupiter1975/2000
MegacliteJupiter2000
TaygeteJupiter2000
ChaldeneJupiter2000
HarpalykeJupiter2000
KalykeJupiter2000
IocasteJupiter2000
ErinomeJupiter2000
IsonoeJupiter2000
PraxidikeJupiter2000
AutonoeJupiter2001
ThyoneJupiter2001
HermippeJupiter2001
AitneJupiter2001
EurydomeJupiter2001
EuantheJupiter2001
EuporieJupiter2001
OrthosieJupiter2001
SpondeJupiter2001
KaleJupiter2001
PasitheeJupiter2001
HegemoneJupiter2003
MnemeJupiter2003
AoedeJupiter2003
ThelxinoeJupiter2003
ArcheJupiter2002
KallichoreJupiter2003
HelikeJupiter2003
CarpoJupiter2003
EukeladeJupiter2003
CylleneJupiter2003
KoreJupiter2003
HerseJupiter2003
DiaJupiter2000
EireneJupiter2003
PhilophrosyneJupiter2003
EuphemeJupiter2003
ValetudoJupiter2016
PandiaJupiter2017
ErsaJupiter2018
MimasSaturn1789
EnceladusSaturn1789
TethysSaturn1684
DioneSaturn1684
RheaSaturn1672
TitanSaturn1655
HyperionSaturn1848
IapetusSaturn1671
PhoebeSaturn1899
JanusSaturn1966
EpimetheusSaturn1966
HeleneSaturn1980
TelestoSaturn1980
CalypsoSaturn1980
AtlasSaturn1980
PrometheusSaturn1980
PandoraSaturn1980
PanSaturn1990
YmirSaturn2000
PaaliaqSaturn2000
TarvosSaturn2000
IjiraqSaturn2000
SuttungrSaturn2000
KiviuqSaturn2000
MundilfariSaturn2000
AlbiorixSaturn2000
SkathiSaturn2000
ErriapusSaturn2000
SiarnaqSaturn2000
ThrymrSaturn2000
NarviSaturn2003
MethoneSaturn2004
PalleneSaturn2004
PolydeucesSaturn2004
DaphnisSaturn2005
AegirSaturn2004
BebhionnSaturn2004
BergelmirSaturn2004
BestlaSaturn2004
FarbautiSaturn2004
FenrirSaturn2004
FornjotSaturn2004
HatiSaturn2004
HyrrokkinSaturn2004
KariSaturn2006
LogeSaturn2006
SkollSaturn2006
SurturSaturn2006
AntheSaturn2007
JarnsaxaSaturn2006
GreipSaturn2006
TarqeqSaturn2007
AegaeonSaturn2008
ArielUranus1851
UmbrielUranus1851
TitaniaUranus1787
OberonUranus1787
MirandaUranus1948
CordeliaUranus1986
OpheliaUranus1986
BiancaUranus1986
CressidaUranus1986
DesdemonaUranus1986
JulietUranus1986
PortiaUranus1986
RosalindUranus1986
BelindaUranus1986
PuckUranus1985
CalibanUranus1997
SycoraxUranus1997
ProsperoUranus1999
SetebosUranus1999
StephanoUranus1999
TrinculoUranus2001
FranciscoUranus2001
MargaretUranus2003
FerdinandUranus2001
PerditaUranus1999
MabUranus2003
CupidUranus2003
TritonNeptune1846
NereidNeptune1949
NaiadNeptune1989
ThalassaNeptune1989
DespinaNeptune1989
GalateaNeptune1989
LarissaNeptune1981
ProteusNeptune1989
HalimedeNeptune2002
PsamatheNeptune2003
SaoNeptune2002
LaomedeiaNeptune2002
NesoNeptune2002
HippocampNeptune2013
VanthOrcus2005
CharonPluto1978
NixPluto2005
HydraPluto2005
KerberosPluto2011
StyxPluto2012
ActaeaSalacia2006
HiʻiakaHaumea2005
NamakaHaumea2005
WeywotQuaoar2007
IlmarëVarda2009
XiangliuGonggong2010
DysnomiaEris2005
Table of moon names

Alternative names for the Moon

In other languages and cultures the Moon is referred to as:

  • Luna – From the Latin word for “luminous”
  • Selene – greek goddess of the Moon

Other names associated with the Moon in Greek mythology are:

  • Artemis – Goddess of the hunt
  • Diana – Patroness of the countryside, hunters, and the moon
  • Cynthia – From “the mount Cynthus” where the moon comes from in mythology

Who named the moons?

Moons were named by the astronomers or teams that discovered them. They get to name them whatever they want, but it is strongly suggested by the astronomical community to follow the convention of using mythological or literary characters.

Moons are some of the few celestial objects that still receive proper names in modern times. There are so many stars, galaxies, nebulae, and exoplanets that they now just receive a scientific catalog designation and not a short name.

List of names of other celestial objects

If you didn’t find a name you liked above, check out these other lists that contain hundreds of other names you can use for inspiration.

Author

Elena is a Canadian journalist and researcher. She has been looking at the sky for years and hopes to introduce more people to the wonderful hobby that is astronomy.