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Surely Espeon has nothing to do with the sun? (well exept that it evolves in the day)

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So it can serve as a counterpart to Umbreon, who is the Moonlight Pokemon. Umbreon and Espeon were introduced in the same generation, and their stats are opposite each other (Espeon is offensive and Umbreon is defensive), so I guess Game Freak wanted to continue the trend with the species name. As you mentioned, Espeon's evolution method also makes sense with this.

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It also learns Morning Sun, I guess? While its counterpart Umbreon gets Moonlight?
Espeon and Umbreon were probably designed to take advantage of the new time system in Generation 2