Guessing where this name came from is a cinch -Neil Armstrong ! This boy was the loudest and greediest kitten on Earth right from the moment he was born so I needed a powerful name for him. This is when I actually decided to use also space-related names instead of purely astronomical ones.
Alfa Andromedae is the brightest (indicated by "alfa") star in the constellation of Andromeda. The name Andromeda was originally intended for a female but I suddenly realized that the only girl in the A-litter did not look like Andromeda at all. I still wanted to use it and was forced to modify it slightly to suit a male.
This name comes from the European Space Agency ESAs Ariane-5 launcher. The first qualification flight of this launcher was a failure and made me miss a few heart beats since I already had a personal relationship with it :-) Fortunately the following qualification flights were successful, and the Ariane-5 launcher has now been approved for commercial use.
This is a star in the constellation Corona Borealis. It exploded as a celebrated nova on the 12th of May in 1866. Today it still remains as a slightly variable star called T Coronae.
Bel-me-khi-ra stands for "the Confronter of Bel" and originates from ancient Babylonian legends. It is associated with one of the oldest (at least 2000 B.C.) constellations identified by man, the group of seven stars called Ursa Major (Otava, Big Dipper).
This is the Arabic name of the demon star Algol (Beta Persei) translated in English. The kitten was a robust red male, as sweet as any kitten (but with that quite normal devilish feline touch).
This is a cosmological model that describes the birth of our Universe. A rather flamboyant name for a little kitten, but he is nowadays called BB for short.
This kitten was named after the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which was launched by space shuttle in July of 1999. The satellite itself was named after the Indian-American astrophysicist Chandrasekhar who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1983. In Sanskrit Chandra means "moon" or "luminous".
Proxima Centauri is the closest ("proxima" in latin) star to Earth outside our solar system, 4.2 light years away. It is a member of a triple star system Alfa Centauri, and is also called as Alfa Centauri C. There were only females in the C-litter so once again a little modification was needed since I absolutely wanted to use this name.
The D-kittens are true lionhearts ! They struggled their way through all difficulties like their bigger counterparts, the brave lions. This is why I decided to give them names related to the constellation Leo, the Lion. Dafira is Arabic and literally means the tuft of coarse hair at the end of a lion's tail. It is also the less used name of Denebola, the second brightest star of Leo, located in the tail of the figure.
In Eastern cultures Leo is an emblem of fire and heat, and thus represents the Sun. The Sun is in this constellation in summer, during the hottest time of the year. The ancient Egyptians believed that at the Creation the Sun rose for the very first time close to Denebola. Leo is the messenger of light and power who victoriously battles against dark forces. The little ruddy boy is all this and more -he is strong, happy, and has the awe-inspiring nature of a lion.
The Dog Star Sirius was so important for ancient Egyptians that the
figure formed by the stars Procyon and Betelgeuze, Naos and Phaet, with Sirius
at the vertices of the two triangles and the centre of the letter, has been
popularly called the Egyptian X.
"Who will not commend the wit of astrology ? Venus, born out of the sea,
hath her exaltation in Pisces." (Sir Thomas Browne, 17th century)
This is the medieval title of the constellation Virgo, originally from the Arabic name Al Adhra al Nathifah, the Innocent Maiden.
Europa is one of Jupiter's moons, discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. It is slightly smaller than our Moon, and is covered by a smooth layer of cracked ice. It is probable that there is an ocean of liquid water underneath the ice.
The first woman to be recorded in scientific history was En Hedu'Anna. She was the high priestess (En) of the moon god Nanna at Ur, installed in the position by her father, Sargon the Great of Akkad, and she had several astronomical observatories in her control (approx. 2300 BCE). The hymns she wrote to the Sumerian goddess Inanna have survived until today, and can be found, together with more information of her life here.
Facula is a latin word for a bright spot in the Sun's photosphere. This kitten's name literally means "a little torch from Finland".
"Space -the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship
Enterprise, its continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to
seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has
gone before." (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Cassiopeia is the well known constellation of the "W" shape -or "M"
depending where you are! Queen Cassiopeia claimed that she and her daughter
Andromeda were the fairest beings of all, and was punished for her vanity.
Of course, Cassiopeia the aby girl IS the fairest creature of them all...
Gamma Cassiopeiae is an eruptive variable star.
Gepardi ("Cheetah" in English) is a small but beautiful constellation in the very Northern part of the sky, discovered in February 2004 by the dazzling young radio astronomers at Metsahovi Radio Observatory. It's a unique radio constellation, made of brilliantly shining quasars and BL Lac objects -no ordinary radio galaxies accepted, sorry. (The cheetah is also my favourite big cat -the most beautiful of all cats in the world.)
Galileo Galilei, famous astronomer and physicist (1564 -1642). He studied Jupiter's moons and the phases of Venus, and supported the heliocentric theory. Also a satellite that was sent to study Jupiter and its moons (1989 - 2003).
Gemma Coronae is the jewel in Ariadne's crown, the brightest star in the constellation Corona Borealis (also called Alphecca or al Na'ir al Fakkah, the Bright one of the dish).
Astronomer Edwin Hubble determined in the 1920's that there are other galaxies in the Universe beyond our Milky Way. He also observed that the Universe is expanding at a constant rate (Hubble's Law). Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a large optical telescope in space.
Astronomer Sir William Herschel discovered the planet
Uranus, and many new nebulae, binary stars, and star clusters in the 18th
century. Herschel is also an infrared satellite, to be launched
Christiaan Huygens was a mathematician and astronomer, who in the 17th century studied, among other things (as he seems to have been a busy man), the construction of telescopes, the rings of Saturn, pendulum clocks, and the nature of light. He also discovered the largest of Saturn's moons, Titan. Cassini-Huygens is a satellite that reached Saturn in 2004; Huygens is a probe that successfully landed on Titan on January 14th 2005.
Edmond Halley, another famous astronomer whose name begins with an H, studied, for example, comets and the proper motion of stars in the 18th century. He correctly calculated the period of a comet that appeared in 1682. This is a comet that we now know as Halley's Comet.
Iunu is the ancient Egyptian name for Heliopolis, the divine City of the Sun. Literally it means the City of Pillars. It has long ago disappeared under the suburbs of Cairo, but at its time it was one of the most sacred cities in ancient Egypt, and source to the probably most important myth of creation.