Where did the baby name Astrea come from in 1978?

The character Astrea from the animated TV series "The Space Sentinels" (1977).
Astrea from “The Space Sentinels

In 1978, the names Astria, Astrea and Astreia all debuted in the U.S. baby name data, and the name Astra saw its then-highest-ever usage (unsurpassed until 2020):

*Debut, †Peak usage (up to that point)

What caused this sudden interest in the name Astrea?

A Saturday morning cartoon called The Space Sentinels (originally titled The Young Sentinels). It premiered in September of 1977, and the main characters were a trio of teenage superheroes that represented three different racial groups:

  • Mercury (Asian), “the amazing athlete who can match the speed of light”
  • Astrea (African-American), “able to assume any living form”
  • Hercules (white), “empowered with the strength of a hundred men”
The characters Hercules, Mercury and Astrea from the animated TV series "Space Sentinels" (1977).
Main characters of “The Space Sentinels

Astrea (pronounced ASS-tree-uh) was one of the few African-American superheroes on television around this time. (The Super Friends character Black Vulcan was another.)

Like Hercules and Mercury, Astrea’s name was taken from a figure in ancient mythology: the Greek goddess of justice, Astraea.

Though I’ve chosen the spelling Astrea for this post — because “Astrea” is the most common alternative spelling of “Astraea” — I have to admit that I don’t know which spelling was used in the cartoon. None of the episodes I watched on YouTube displayed the character’s name on-screen.

Speaking of episodes, not very many exist: only 13 aired before The Space Sentinels was cancelled. Was the mixed-race cartoon too ahead of its time to survive?

So which of those three debut spellings do you like best: Astria, Astrea or (one-hit wonder) Astreia?


One thought on “Where did the baby name Astrea come from in 1978?

  1. My name is Astreia and I was born in 1979. Honestly, Astreia is the best spelling for this name.

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