Thursday, August 24, 2006

Changes in the Heavens

"My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles."

Are there any school children in the last several decades who have not learned this mnemonic to recall the names of the nine planets that orbit the Sun? (In order, mind you, from "nearest in" to "farthest out.") Well, bad news, campers. The International Astronomical Union voted yesterday to strip Pluto of its status as a planet, reducing the number of planets in the solar system to eight. Pluto, discovered in 1930, will be placed in a category that appears on its way to being called "dwarf planets." (I guess the conventions of politically correct speech haven't reached the IAU as yet... To make matters along this line even more interesting, the collection of astronomical bodies that are so classified once were called, "minor planets." I wonder why the IAU didn't feel it could stay with that terminology?)

As this site has among its goals the purpose to inform as well as to entertain, let me offer a new mnemonic for the schools of tomorrow:

"My Very Eccentric Mother Just Served Us... Nothing..."