Car names -- past & present -- that reference or evoke the Universe.
  1. APOLLO (1973-1975) - Buick (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Greek god who carried the Sun across the sky in his chariot. But here, in direct reference to the US Missions to the Moon. We lost three Astronauts in the capsule of Apollo 1, as it burned during a communications test run. Apollo 9 stayed in low Earth Orbit for tests. Nine other Apollo missions went to the Moon: 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Six landed. All between 1968 and 1972.
  2. ASTRA (2008-2009) - Saturn (GENERAL MOTORS)
    "Star" in Latin, which also appears as "Ad Astra", the name of the newsletter for the National Space Society. Also appears in the state motto of Kansas "Ad Astra per Aspera" and in a zillion other places.
  3. EQUINOX (2005-Current) - Chevrolet (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Latin for "Equal Night": Conventionally identified as the first days of Spring & Autumn, which are the two days a year where the Sun is in the sky for as long as it's below the horizons.
  4. ION (2003-2007) - Saturn (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Matter likes being electrically neutral, but an Ion is an atom (or molecule) that has too many, or too few electrons to match the number of protons in its nucleus. This leaves a net charge which, if the conditions are ripe, can lead to electric shocks whose sole intent is to re-balance the universe. In other cases, the charges migrate within electromagnetic fields moving stored energy from one place to another, as in a battery. To ionize something is to turn neutral matter into ions.
  5. NOVA (1962-1979; 1985-1988) - Chevrolet (GENERAL MOTORS)
    A star whose entire surface has just exploded from the unstable deposit of gaseous matter from a bloated companion star in mutual orbit. (Not sure if Chevy knew all this in advance when they names the car.)
  6. PRIZM (1993-1997) - Geo (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Properly spelled "Prism". Issac Newton in 1704 showed that white light passing through a prism splits into a the familiar rainbow of colors. He also showed the reverse - take that same rainbow and pass it back through a prism and the colors re-combine to form white light.
    Pass white light through a prism (or in modern days, a "diffraction grating" and it's constituent colors are laid barfe. The colors of the Spectrum, traditionally named: Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. Or Roy G. Biv, for short.
  8. SKY (2007-2010) - Saturn (GENERAL MOTORS)
    What the universe looks like when peering through a planetary atmosphere. On Earth, the daytime sky is aglow with blue light scattered from white sunlight, rendering the sky blue. This washes out all stars that would otherwise be visible in broad daylight.
  9. SOLSTICE (2006-2010) - Pontiac (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Latin for "Stationary Sun", this term corresponds to the two days a year when Sun's arc across the sky stops its daily downward trend (around December 21) - transitioning from Fall to Winter, or its daily upward trend (around June 21), from Spring to Summer.
  10. VEGA (1971-1977) - Chevrolet (GENERAL MOTORS)
    The brightest star in the constellation Lyra, and the fifth brightest star in the night sky. Famously referenced in Carl Sagan's 1985 novel & 1996 film Contact, as the point of origin of intelligent alien signals sent our way.
  11. VOLT (2011-Current) - Chevrolet (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Officially, a unit of electromotive force. Ultimately named for the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (model years: 1745-1827) who invented the battery. That being said, the Chevy Volt is a hybrid, not a pure electric car.
  12. AEROSTAR (1986-1997) - FORD
    Just a cool name.
  13. COMET (1960-1977) - Mercury (FORD)
    Derived from Latin for "hair", its a ball of ice and debris several miles across in orbit around a star. Many chave elongated trajectories that bring them intermittently close and far from their host star. When close, their ices turn to gas and stream away from the star, forming streaks that looked like hair to the ancients.
  14. GALAXIE (1958-1974) - FORD
    Properly spelled "Galaxy", it derives from Greek and Latin roots Galacto-, for Milk. The white band of light across our night sky was named the "Milky Way". containing the blended light of a 100-billion stars. It's what our own galaxy looks like from within. The universe contains nearly 100-billion galaxies.
  15. FOCUS (1998-Current) - FORD
    There are no microscopes, telescopes, and there would be no vision at all without lenses or mirrors bringing light to a focus.
  16. FUSION (2005-Current) - FORD
    When slam together the nuclei of light elements to form heavier ones on the Periodic Table of Elements, then you have fusion. When you do this with elements lighter than Iron, the reaction liberates nuclear energy. The Sun executes controlled nuclear fusion in its core, slamming hydrogen into itself to make the heavier element Helium. The uncontrolled liberation of nuclear energy via fusion we call a nuclear bomb.
  17. METEOR (1961-1963) - Mercury (FORD)
    A small, typically pea-sized particle of debris adrift in the solar system that slams into Earth's atmosphere, converting its kinetic energy of motion into heat, vaporizing the particle and rendering it aglow, in a display of what we otherwise call shooting stars. They come bigger and smaller. The really big ones survive their collision with our atmosphere, crash to the ground, and renders most life forms on Earth extinct. But those are rare.
  18. ORION (1983-1993) - FORD
    Orion, the Hunter, is the most recognizable constellation in the sky. It straddles the Celestial Equator, making him equally visible from the Northern & Southern hemispheres. Bright stars clearly trace his legs, his belt, his shoulders, arms, shield, sword, and neck. There just happens to be a big, empty, starless area were his head is supposed to go.
  19. TAURUS (1986-Current) - FORD
    The Bull. A zodiacal constellation. One of twelve traditionally identified with the zodiac.
  20. TELSTAR (1983-1999) - FORD
    First Launched in 1962 by AT&T, Telstar was America's earliest series communications satellite, providing our first transatlantic feed of video images.
  21. ARIES (1981-1995) - Dodge (CHRYSLER)
    The Ram. A zodiacal constellation. One of twelve traditionally identified with the zodiac.
  22. LASER (1990-1994) - Plymouth (CHRYSLER)
    An acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Once a rare piece of technology, you can now buy them cheaply and everywhere as pocket laser pointers. Quantum physics shows that you can stimulate a field of identical atoms to emit a single frequency of light by bathing them in the very same light they would emit, greatly amplifying the emitted light. This simple fact, first shown by Einstein, is the foundation of all lasers.
  23. PULSAR (1978-2005; 2013- Current) - NISSAN
    The remnant of a high-mass star that has exploded its mortal remains into the galaxy. They're small (a dozen miles across), dense (a trillion tons per thimble), massive (same as the Sun), and are made entirely of neutrons. When they spin rapidly they emit pulses of light, especially radio waves. This subcategory of neutron stars are called Pulsars, a contraction of "pulsating stars". The first ones discovered, in 1967, were briefly presumed to be signals from intelligent aliens.
  24. SUNNY (1966-1981 USA; thru 2006, elsewhere) - NISSAN
    During the day, when there are no clouds, one might call the weather conditions "Sunny"
  25. SOLARA (1999-2008) - Camry (TOYOTA)
    Good enough for me because the word 'Sol" (Latin for Sun) appears in the name. For Earth and the Moon, our corresponding Latin names are "Terra" & "Luna ".
  26. SOLUNA (1978-1999; Asia) - TOYOTA
    Clever shotgun marriage between "Sol" -- Latin for the Sun, and "Luna", Latin for the Moon.
  27. APOLLO (1989-1992) - VOLKSWAGEN
    Both cars are the same, but branded differently. See description of Apollo under Buick-Apollo near the top of this list. Note that 1989, the first year of this cars' model, was the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
  28. ECLIPSE (1990-2012) - MITSUBISHI
    Officially, an eclipse is when a cosmic objects passes into the shadow of another cosmic object. During a Lunar eclipse, the Moon passes through Earth's Shadow in space, in a long, slow, and boring three-hour event, occurring on average every couple of years. But when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, it's technically called an Occultation, more commonly called a Solar Eclipse.
  29. GEMINI (1974-1993 )- ISUZU
    The Twins - A zodiacal constellation. One of twelve traditionally identified with the Zodiac. And in the Apollo program, the Gemini missions (1964-1966) carried two astronauts in a space capsule, testing many of the preliminary steps necessary for a successful program to land Apollo astronauts on the Moon. All three astronauts from Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, & Michael Collins) first flew in Gemini missions..
  30. SCORPIO (2002-Current) - MAHINDRA
    The Scorpion - A zodiacal constellation. One of twelve traditionally identified with the Zodiac.
  31. SPECTRA (200-2009) - KIA
    Plural of Spectrum. See GM's Geo SPECTRUM above.
  32. SOLARIS (1994-Current; Russia) - HYUNDAI
    Don't know what the word means, but it contains the entire word Solar and rhymes with Polaris, which is good enough for me.
  33. STELLAR (1983-1997) - HYUNDAI
    Always liked the fact that stellar refers to high quality work or a highly talented performance. Adjectival words from other sciences, like molecular or nuclear carry no such meaning.
  34. Geo (1989-1997) - Chevrolet (GENERAL MOTORS)
    Prefix for Earth. As in Geology. But note also it's appearance in the branch of mathematics known as Geometry, which, from ancient Greece simply meant Earth Measurement. One of the best displays of this fact was Eratosthenes's calculation of Earth's circumference - a spherical Earth deduced in 240BC. Described succinctly in Carl Sagan's 1980 Cosmos Series: http://bit.ly/1VWAmux
  35. Infiniti (1989-Current) - (NISSAN)
    Correctly spelled "Infinity". A highly useful mathematical concept that all too often falls outside of our human brains capacity to grok.
  36. Mercury (1938-2011) - FORD
    The smallest planet among the solar system's eight (yeah, I said it --> eight.) orbiting closest to the Sun. It's actually smaller than Earth's moon, itself a gigantic example of a planetary moon. But Mercury's huge dense core of Iron makes it 5X more massive. It has no moons. In April 2015, NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury, which had taken data for five years in orbit, expectedly crashed into Mercury, leaving a crater of its own.
  37. Saturn (1985-2010) - GENERAL MOTORS
    The sixth planet from the Sun, 10x farther from the Sun than Earth. Large and gaseous, with a striking ring system, it's the orbital home of dozens of moons, and NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Coolest fact about Saturn is that it's so bulbous, t's less dense than water. An average scoop of it's substance would float in a bathtub.
  38. Subaru (1953-current) - SUBARU
    What the Japanese call the Pleiades -- a cluster of a thousands stars, gravitationally conjoined, in orbit around themselves. The unaided eye sees only six or seven of them. Visible high in the evening's winter sky near Orion. In many legends, from Europe to the Aboriginal Outback, they are the "Seven Sisters".
  39. Tesla (2003-Current) - TESLA MOTORS
    Named for Nikola Tesla, the Serbian engineer & physicist (Model Years: 1856-1943), best known for pioneering the use of alternating current "AC" as a power source in civilization. The unit of physics that measures the strength of magnetic fields -- magnetic flux density -- is named the Tesla, in his honor.
  40. Sirius XM Radio (1990-Current) OnStar (1995-Current) Sunroof (1937-Current) Moonroof (1973-current)
    Stuff you might find on, or in your car that was narmed for cosmic objects. The star Sirius is the brightest of the night sky and one of the closest stars to the Sun. Find it in the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog -- variously illustrated to identify its nose or the location of its heart. And in ancient Egypt, the time of year when Sirius rose in the early morning, just before the Sun, signaled to all the flooding of the Nile.