The owl'd owl'd story. [front]As the days grow shorter and nights darker, it seems like a good moment to consider night owl names for girls – names inspired by the night.

Just like Hermione names and Katniss names have specific qualities, so do night owl names.  They refer, in some fashion, to the night sky.  But they have a pretty, feminine quality, too.  They’re not delicate or frilly, but they can’t be clunky, either.  I’ve dropped Nyx from the list, and dozens of others that fit in terms of meaning, but didn’t quite have the right sound.  (Or was I wrong?  As I read the final draft of this post, is Nyx more wearable that Callirrhoe?)

Night Owl names are the ones that stick when you hear them in the planetarium show.  They’re fluid, lovely names to say.  They’re a little bit poetic, maybe even haunting.

And despite this blend, they’re also perfectly wearable in real life.  Sometimes offbeat and unusual, yes.  But never burdensome or strange.


Laila, Layla, Leila – Spell it as you wish, this name comes from the Hebrew word for night.  It was used in the 600s by an Arab poet, and his romance forever tied Layla to the Arab world.  Then along came Eric Clapton’s enduring 1970 “Layla,” making us all sit up and consider it for our daughters.

Lila – It can be a separate Indian name, or spin on Laila with a shared meaning.  Either way, Lila has also gained in use over the last decade.

Lilith – A lovely way to get to Lily, Lilith comes from an Akkadian word meaning “of the night.”  Except. Lilith is considered a demon in ancient myth, sometimes associated with all sorts of unpleasantness.

Twila, Twyla – This more recent invention likely comes from the word twilight, making it a natural night owl name.

Vesper – Vesper Berlin was a Bond girl, but before that, it was a name for the evening star.  Vespers is an evening prayer service. The service is sometimes called Evensong – a choice way too out there to make this list, but could it possibly be a daring middle name choice?


Danica Strictly speaking, Danica is the morning star, but let’s keep it with the night owls anyhow.  It’s a Slavic name, and while we say the “nic” like Nicole, in most Slavic tongues it’s dah NEETS ah.

Estella, Esther, Estrella – Star makes an obvious night sky name, but all three of these star-related names are also lovely possibilities.

Sidra – The Latin sidereus refers to stars – it is the source of our word sidereal.

Sitara – It means star in Hindi.

Stella – Literary through and through, Stella was borrowed from the Latin by a sixteenth century poet, and boosted by a Tennessee Williams play. Plus, it’s the Latin word for star.


Arianrhod – A name borrowed from Welsh myth, sometimes associated with the moon.  It translates to silver wheel – a fitting image for a moon goddess. Listen to it in Welsh here.

Artemis – The goddess of the hunt in Greek myth, and also associated with the moon.

Chandra – From the Sanskrit word for moon, also sometimes used as a masculine name.

Diana – The Roman moon goddess, Diana qualifies as a near-classic choice. It also brings to mind the late Princess of Wales, and, more recently, the rebooted DC Universe take on Wonder Woman.

Luna – Another night sky name on the rise, though this one thanks to Harry Potter and a handful of high profile birth announcements.

Marama – A Maori moon goddess name.

Quilla – In Spanish, Mama Quilla is the name of the Inca moon goddess, one of their most powerful deities, depicted as a beautiful woman.  Only trouble?  In English, we usually call her Mama Killa – and somehow, swapping the Qu for a K makes this a non-starter of a name. Still, I think Quilla fits right in with Ella, Stella, and Willa.

Selene – Sometimes another name for Artemis in Greek myth, and sometimes a separate goddess, the personification of the moon. Selena is another option.


Io – A tiny, two-letter name, Io still produces two syllables. It’s a moon of Jupiter and a figure from Greek myth, a nymph who fled the advances of Zeus.

Callirrhoe – Is this one wearable?  The spelling and pronunciation are not intuitive.  It sounds like kah lyr OO ee.  I’m tempted to say Callie Roe, a sort of smooshed name.  Still, this tiny moon of Jupiter is intriguing.  Initially mistaken for an asteroid, and when it was finally identified as a moon, it was named for a river nymph.

Callisto – Another name borrowed from myth for the night skies, this one is more familiar to modern parents.  Blame it on the villainous Callisto on Xena: Warrior Princess.  But there’s also a positive association thanks to actress Calista Flockhart.

Elara – One of the smaller moons of Jupiter, and a lesser known figure from myth, too.  And yet, I think Elara could be very wearable today.

Galatea – One of the moons orbiting Neptune, the name is associated with the statue carved by Pygmalion, the one that came to life.  Galatea means milk white – an appropriate name for a sculpture, or for a celestial object in the night sky.

Helene – A moon of Saturn, the name was inspired by Helen of Troy.  Maybe it is the similarity to Selene, but sleek Helene feels like a Night Owl name.

Leda – One of my favorites on this list, and yet another moon of Jupiter.  Leda and the Swan is a widely known tale of Zeus’ ability to shapeshift in the name of pursuing mortals.  Their  child together was the impossibly beautiful Helen of Troy.  Leda hasn’t been in the US Top 1000 since 1920, making it a little bit vintage revival, a little bit modern discovery.

Thalassa – Girls’ names starting with Th- are an intriguing bunch. Thalassa is one of the more obscure names on this list, but the meaning is rich. It’s the Greek word for the sea, and in their mythology, she was a primordial goddess of the sea. It’s only fitting that Thalassa is a moon of Neptune.

Titania – Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and also the largest moon of Uranus.


Alcyone – It looks like a creative respelling of Allison, but this name belongs to the brightest star in the Pleiades constellation. But just as I left Callirrhoe on the list, there’s something about Alcyone that intrigues me.  Pronounce it al SEE eh nee.

Andromeda – A princess rescued by Perseus in myth, Andromeda gave her name to a constellation, a galaxy, and the name of a popular television series set in space.

Aquila – A strong name, a possibility for a daughter or a son. It means eagle in Latin, and refers to a constellation identified by Ptolemy.  The name is masculine in the New Testament, but is slightly more common for girls today.

Carina – It sounds like a variant of Cara or Karen – and sometimes that may be the name’s origin.  But look to the night sky, and Carina is the keel of Jason’s ship, the one he sailed in pursuit of the Golden Fleece.

Cassiopeia – In myth, this name belongs to Andromeda’s show-off mom. Despite the association, she’s a well-known constellation and a lovely, unusual name – a sister for Penelope, an alternative to Cassandra.

Lyra – A lyre-shaped constellation, we also think of Lyra as the heroine of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

Maia – Among the most wearable of star names, borrowed from another star in the Pleiades.  There’s also Merope, familiar to Harry Potter fans, Asterope, Celaeno, Pleione, Taygeta, Electra,  and then one I quite like for boys – Atlas.

Meissa – A bright star in the constellation Orion, with a meaning to match: shining one, from the Arabic phrase Al-Maisan.  Most astrological sites give the pronunciation as MAY suh, which makes it a successor to Macy and an elaboration of Mae.

Talitha – There are two Talithas in the night sky, a Southern and a Northern, both in the constellation Ursa Major.  It’s a nature name through and through – besides referring to two bright stars in night sky, Talitha comes from a phrase referring to a gazelle.  There’s a New Testament link for Talitha, too, from an Aramaic phrase meaning “little girl.”

Vaela – Carina is the keel of Jason’s ship, while Vaela is the sail.

Vega – Too Pulp Fiction?  Maybe.  But there’s also singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, and many others to wear the surname, which refers to a meadow or a plain.  The star comes from a separate Arabic phrase referring to a falling eagle.


Araceli – Derived from a Latin phrase meaning “altar of the sky,” Araceli originally referred to the Virgin Mary.

Celeste – Celeste isn’t specifically related to the evening, but it does refer to the celestial, earning a spot here. One of Galileo’s daughters, born Virginia, took the name Maria Celeste when she became a nun.

Evening – Noun names are a rich source of possibilities, and Evening offers the logical and wearable Evie or Eve as short forms.

Galilea – It is tough to overstate the contributions of Galileo to astronomy, and his name has been used for countless objects associated with the night sky.  As a given name, it refers to Galilee, the ancient region once home to Jesus.  While Galilea isn’t found in the heavens, there’s something about the name that fits on this list, isn’t there?

What are your favorite Night Owl names?  Are there other names that belong on this list?

night sky namesnight sky girl names

Image by István Mihály from Pixabay

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


    1. Luna, Star are a couple of very basic ones; but something I love doing is taking words that foreshadow things about my character and putting them in translate and making their names from the Latin translate or French or any language that you like. I know Noct means night so Maybe Nocta or Nola. Just a few suggestions hope this helps c:

    2. I’ve always loved the names Eclipse, Twyla, Crescent, Shadey, Cassiopeia, nova, and Starr

  1. I love this list! I would also add the name Cresent. I read a book about a girl called Cress, which was a nickname for Cresent.

  2. This list is fantastic! Thanks much for putting it together.

    I taught a young Cassiopeia who went by Cassie. Initially, I thought it was a bit lengthy and frilly, but it has now grown on me.

    Choosing a favorite from this list is quite hard, but if I had to choose just one, I think it would be Helene. Well, that’s my answer for today anyway.

  3. I know a Leda! She is a teenager and I’ve always thought it was an amazing name both for the history and the sound.

  4. Oooh, this list is lovely…I actually have a strange fixation on space-names, particularly the names of lesser hailed objects like asteroids. Oh, that asteroid belt, such a treasure trove of naming material! There’s Vesta, Pallas, Hygiea, Flora, Eunoma, Koronis, Eos, Veritas, Datura…probably not names I would use but names I like knowing are there 🙂
    I don’t think Quilla is a stretch, because I love it so…Talitha is also really pretty. This list makes me happy.

  5. So many fantastic names here! There’s no point listing my favourites as I love 99% of these 🙂

    Aurora could be another addition, for the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), although I guess that phenomenon is not strictly limited to night time.

    I also prefer Celestia as an alternative to Celeste, personally.

  6. Love this category of names.

    My husband’s favorite girl name, for some inexplicable reason, is Shadow, and though it has grown on me, I might prefer the more subtle option of Senka or those you have listed, especially Lilith, Twyla, Diana, Leda, Titania, Andromeda, and Nyx, which does seem rather wearable to me (especially with the diminutive Nyxie).

    I might also argue for the inclusion of Lilitu, Neoma, Maristella, Nightingale, and Tinuviel. However, there’s another night-inspired name that, while I might not add it to this list, I find attractive: Nocturnal. She’s the name of a goddess-like figure in the Elderscrolls games–Night Mistress and patron of thieves. Likely more suitable in the middle slot, if it were to be used at all.

    1. Maristela is gorgeous! I had Neoma on the list, but I dropped her … then again, I dropped about 50 names! This really could have been four posts …

      And I know – I kept rethinking Nyx the whole time. And your comment about Nyxie makes me think I might’ve been dead wrong!

      1. I so want to see the rejected list! I love all of these names so much and names that are in this category. This is the best list of girl names I have ever seen!