Astronomy Veronica anemone

By Phil Plait | February 16, 2011 2:44 pm

Things I love: astronomy, geeks, dorky humor, the scientific method.

So how cool is it that alpha geek Veronica Belmont did a funny video about science with the IRrelevant Astronomy folks!

And hey, Veronica pronounces Uranus correctly! She’s awesome.

If you like that video, then check out some of the others they’ve made with Friends of Bad Astronomy™:

  • IRrelevant Astronomy: Dr. Wheaton edition
  • Robot Wil Wheaton takes over the Universe
  • Felicia Day collides galaxies
    • Tip o’ the anemone to Javier Pazos.

      CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Geekery, Humor

      Comments (41)

      1. Uh, pronounced Uranus correctly, says who?

        Up until the jokes started flying in the late 1980s, it was always pronounced Your Anus. Hence the jokes. Then it suddenly became Urine Us.

        If you really want to pronounce it correctly, go back to the original Greek, which would sound more like Oo-ran-ós,

      2. Keith Bowden

        “Uranus” is debatable (although she definitely used the preferred pronunciation) but she blew it on “Charon”! ;)

        That was funny. Seriously, I have to watch these things more often…

      3. Timmy

        You can’t make me pronounce it differently. That would ruin my son’s favorite knock-knock joke!

      4. kuhnigget’s post should inspire an exploratory trip to Greece so we can really find out how to say it! I’ll volunteer to go.

      5. Benjamin
      6. Sticks

        But she called Pluto a planet, which according to the IAU, it is not!

      7. This Guy

        It’s a planet, a dwarf planet. Leaving off the modifier does change the meaning but I’m not sure we should lose too much sleep over it.

      8. “Your anus” is certainly not “incorrect”, even though it can be troublesome when used in the presence of unruly children. No one calls element #92 “Urine-ium”.

        I am far more concerned, though, at her apparent inability to distinguish between “may” and “might”.

      9. Kibitzing aside, that was freaking hilarious!

        - Jack

      10. Bobby

        That was funny, I gotta watch more of these.
        Man, I’m glad we don’t have that Uranus joke in my language. But that’s the first time I’ve heard Charon pronounced “Sharon”. Is this an alternative pronunciation, an accent thing or did she just say it wrong?

      11. OtherRob

        Up until the jokes started flying in the late 1980s, it was always pronounced Your Anus. Hence the jokes. Then it suddenly became Urine Us.

        Late 80s? We were making Uranus jokes in the schoolyard in the 70s.

      12. Chris A.

        What the Wikipedia entry doesn’t make clear is whether Christy pronounced Charon as “SHARE-on” or “SHAR-on.” The latter (short “a”) would make more sense as a shortened version of Charlene (unless she pronounced her name “SHARE-leen”–doubtful).

      13. bigjohn756

        I always pronounce Uranus as “your-anise”. Be that as it may, I enjoyed this video a lot, plus I fell in love with Veronica. What a delight she is!

      14. Joining the Uranus pronunciation debate:

        To me, it will always be ur-A-nus. This is not quite pronounced the same as “your anus”, though obviously it’s similar. The vowel in the first syllable is different, with “your” being pronounced more in the back of the mouth. Your dialect may differ, but that’s not my problem. :-)

        What’s more important, though, is this. The best way to deal with people who have such dirty minds is to ignore them, i.e. to speak precisely as you would if they did not exist. If you change your pronunciation in order to ward off people who laugh at “ur-A-nus”, you are letting them influence you, which is the same as letting them win. I really don’t think you want to do that.

        My opinion, of course, but a vehement one.

      15. artbot

        That was funny as hell, but what’s with the awful lighting on Veronica? We…uh, I mean “she” deserves better.

      16. Gary Ansorge

        ,,,and for those into the scientific method, there’s this,,,

        http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_on_sc/us_sci_climate_floods;_ylt=Ar5Hk46E3b3qd8bwNtf1b0UPLBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJtb2JhaTA4BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMjE2L3VzX3NjaV9jbGltYXRlX2Zsb29kcwRjcG9zAzIEcG9zAzUEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDc2NpZW50aXN0c2Nv

        ,,,all about actual research linking the recent increases in extreme weather to AGW.

        I read a few of the comments and I have to say,,,there really are a lot of idiots on the web,,,

        Gary 7

      17. Brian Davis

        Great video. Well played.

        and really, the most important take-home we’ve got here is arguments over pronunciation? Seriously? how about This Is A Freakin’ Awesome Way To Educate About What Science Is, And How It Works!!

        sniff. sorry. I’m answering student emails on a take-home exam. ANYTHING that’s promoting critical thinking in my book can pronounce ancient, re-purposed words in any way they want.

      18. Gary B

        We were taught to pronounce it Urine Us when I started school back in the early 1950′s. I didn’t hear it pronounced as Your Anus until the 80′s and always thought that was just a play on the spelling.

      19. John Hynes

        I once talked with a man who lived on Uranus Street in San Francisco, who pronounced it on the first syllable, and he told me that his neighbor at 69 Uranus gets really upset when people say it wrong, which most do.

        Uranus is the Latinized spelling of the Greek sky-god, Ouranos or Οὐρανός. In neither Latin nor Greek is there a “you” in the name, so I don’t know why it is considered correct to have one there in English. I also don’t know why they used the Greek name, instead of the original Roman Caelus, like all the other planets.

        I was in high school when the rings were in the news, so the big joke was to ask someone if it was true that there were “rings around your anus”.

      20. Messier Tidy Upper

        Good video – nice performance there by Veronica Belmont. :-)

        @1. kuhnigget :

        ..If you really want to pronounce it correctly, go back to the original Greek, which would sound more like Oo-ran-ós,

        Agreed & seconded by me. :-)

        Let’s go back to the original correct spelling of Ouranos too.

        I’m not the only one to think so either – see :

        http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=189939051777

        All the planets except one are named after Roman gods, and Ouranos is the one exception. Unfortunately it has become the brunt of joke after joke due to a Latinization of the original Greek name, Ouranos. We do not call Poseidon Posidon, so why make Ouranos the exception? Ouranos is a magnificent planet that has been subject to a bromidic and stale joke for far too long.

        (& no, I didn’t start that facebook group myself either.)

        @6. Sticks : But she called Pluto a planet, which according to the IAU, it is not!

        Well the IAU got that wrong & a planet Pluto most definitely is – as are the other ice dwarf variety planets too.

      21. Nigel Depledge

        Bobby (10) said:

        Man, I’m glad we don’t have that Uranus joke in my language. But that’s the first time I’ve heard Charon pronounced “Sharon”. Is this an alternative pronunciation, an accent thing or did she just say it wrong?

        The pronunciation of Charon depends on exactly what English value one assigns to the transliteration of the Greek letter Chi (most closely resembling our letter X).

        If one assigns it a hard “K” sound (as in Christmas – and that “X” in Xmas ain’t an English “X”, it’s a Greek Chi), then it sounds a bit like “Kair-on”. If one assigns it a slightly softer sound, it has no English equivalent, but would make the same kind of “Ch” sound that crops up in Scots and German (with the rest of the word sounding the same). If one assigns it a very soft sound, then it gets kind of close to “Share-on”.

        I have no idea which is most widely regarded as “correct” by astronomers.

        If only there were some astronomer dude around here we could ask about this . . .

      22. Messier Tidy Upper

        Er .. are anemones that carnivorous? Do they talk? Are known to host chat shows?

        Actually, anemones are terrestrial flowering plants :

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anemone

        while these resemble cartoon sea anemones :

        http://sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/animals/invertebrates/seaanemone.htm

        Hmm .. There may be good astronomy here but, methinks, there’s more than a little bad biology as well! ;-)

        @16. Gary Ansorge :

        for those into the scientific method, there’s this,,,[link snipped] .. all about actual research linking the recent increases in extreme weather to AGW. I read a few of the comments and I have to say,,,there really are a lot of idiots on the web,,,

        True. :-(

        Worse yet, they’re not restricted to the internet either – there’s a lot of idiots everywhere in life generally also. :-(

        I guess we can look on the bright side & say that most of the commenters we get here are far better quality than there and elsewhere, right? ;-)

      23. Bobby

        @ Nigel #20
        I see. Thanks. And the Xmas thing hadn’t occured to me.
        The “Ch” sound is also used in the Bulgarian name (for both the satellite and the ferryman) and I’m used to the “K” in English.
        I could’ve sworn I saw an astronomer pass by here earlier. I hope the anemone didn’t eat him.

      24. Andrew

        Astronomy anemone? Lime and limpid green.

        Surely Charon (Χάρων) should be “kair-own”; and Uranus (Οὐρανός) should be “oo-rai-nos”.

      25. chris j.

        to resolve the uranus issue once and for all, we should do as futurama suggested and just rename the planet urectum.

      26. Messier Tidy Upper

        @ ^ Chris j : Predictable. I knew someone was bound to mention that.

      27. This is wonderful! Made me laugh out loud. Who knew members of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae could be so funny?

      28. The /original/ sound in Χαρον was not the sound in “loch”, but rather k+h. Unfortunately, there is no distinction in English between k and k+h, although in many people’s pronunciation the difference is there, with k+h in “care”, but a bare k in “scare”. But in Classical Greek, as in many other languages, the two sounds are regarded as two different consonants. The same is true of Φ and Θ. However, Greek pronunciation itself has changed, and the three letters eventually became the ph, th, and ch (as in “loch”) we all know today.

        In most languages, “Charon” the satellite — or, arguably, dwarf planet — is pronounced in the same way as the Greek god, but, in English, it is usually pronounced with a “sh” as a courtesy to the discoverer. (Speaking of the discoverer, with New Horizons well on the way, does anyone know whether the IAU going to go with the plan to use the Land of Oz as Charon’s feature-naming theme?)

        “Caelus” is the ordinary Latin word for “sky”; the Romans generally referred to the grandfather of the Olympians as “Uranus”. The Romans didn’t exactly have the same gods as the Greeks, you see; they had gods of their own. But, like most pagans, they tended to say, “OK, alien god X is the same as our god Y.” In particular, they glommed onto the Greek gods like anything because the native Roman gods were all vague numens with no cool mythology to speak of. Where they didn’t have a clear equivalent, they kept the Greek name, Apollo being the obvious example. (By a similar process, Latin Mars-day, Mercury-day, Jupiter-day, Venus-day, and Saturn-day became Tiw’s-day, Woden’s-day, Thunor’s-day, Frija’s-day, and Saturn-day.)

        We do not use the Latin pronuncation of any of the other planets, so I don’t think it can be justified in the case of Uranus.

        For whatever it’s worth, I was taught “your anus” in the early 50s.

      29. marsjunkiegirl

        I’m not particularly bothered by the pronunciation, but by the fact that she referenced ‘finding Pluto’ as the most important outcome of the old 9th giant planet theory, rather than the discovery of the Kuiper Belt. There are more large KBOs than just Pluto out there, y’know. Folks should learn that in grade school, just like they learn about the asteroid belt.

      30. Wayne on the Plains

        marsjunkiegirl,

        I don’t think that’s a problem, she was speaking historically and that WAS the most important immediate outcome. The idea of a Kuiper belt didn’t gain much traction until decades after Pluto’s discovery, and we didn’t start finding more members of it until 1992! I agree that the Kuiper belt should be given equal billing to the asteroid belt in textbooks, but she was giving a particular example, not describing our current knowledge of the region.

      31. Keith Bowden

        Well, for my money it’s still “ur-a-nus” and “kare-on”. After all, it’s how Klaatu pronounced them! (The band, not Michael Rennie.) :)

        But enough nit-picking… this is funny (and informative) stuff!

      32. Isaac

        @#1, kuhnigget: “Up until the jokes started flying in the late 1980s, it was always pronounced Your Anus. Hence the jokes. Then it suddenly became Urine Us.”

        Not according to some old dictionaries I have about. In both the 1966 and 1936 volumes, Urine Us is the only pronunciation given.

      33. Matt B.

        A transliteration of chi should be pronounced /k/ in English. The British are weird for pronouncing it /sh/ in “chiropodist”.

        To John Hynes’s “In neither Latin nor Greek is there a ‘you’ in the name, so I don’t know why it is considered correct to have one there in English.”
        A: Because that’s how English anglicizes words from Latin and Greek. Long u‘s sound like /yoo/ unless the preceding consonant is apical (t, d, s, z, n, sh, zh, ch, j or r, and usually th and l, especially at the beginning of a word).

        As to “Uranus” it depends on whether the a was long in Latin. If it was, then that’s where the accent is. If not, the the accent is on the first u. I don’t have my Latin dictionary handy at the moment.

      34. @ Isaac #33:

        Interesting. Are they English (as in from England) by any chance? The Webster’s I have from 1958 gives yoo-ráy-nus first and úr-eh-nus as an alternate. I suspect the latter was preferred on the eastern side of the pond.

        I can honestly say I never heard the Urine Us pronunciation until after the Voyager spacecraft first arrived and TV talking heads suddenly found themselves having to say Your Anus on the air.

      35. Brian Too

        Those anemones are certainly the largest I’ve ever seen! Also the most talkative, intelligent, yet with a weird accent. And the only ones with a second mouth on the side. With teeth!

        And it’s all perfectly fine.

      36. Matt B.

        Okay, my Latin dictionary doesn’t have it, but my two-volume English dictionary indicates in the etymology that the a is short. Therefore, it is /YOO-ra-nuss/.

      37. Stargazer

        I think Emily Lakdawalla suggested “you’re a nuss” to a school class to sort of disarm that can of worms.

      38. Gary Eller

        Awesome.

        Roll credits.

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