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I guess we need a new mnemonic...
August 16, 2006 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. Xena) may join the 9 planets we already know (and strive to remember) if a resolution by the International Astronomical Union is passed next week. So what makes a planet, according to the IAU? Having sufficient mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. be round enough...welcome former asteroid Ceres) and being in orbit around a star without being a star itself or a satellite of another planet (apparently Charon and Pluto are actually a double planet.) Mike Brown, discoverer of "10th planet" Sedna and alleged "Pluto-hater", doesn't really like the idea.
posted by nekton (75 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you don't want to do all of that fancy reading, NPR had a nice piece on the story this morning.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2006


I have never before had, and will never again have, so clearcut an opportunity to make a topic-appropriate self-link to a song about the lunar bodies of pluto. For that alone, I think you, nekton.
posted by cortex at 7:04 AM on August 16, 2006


I'm glad I didn't start writing a post about this when I read it five minutes ago, because you did a fine job, nekton. Let me point out that under the new rules, there could be a whole bunch of new plutons [1] once more is known about them. For instance, Quaoar (not quonsar) and Orcus

[1] according to the proposal a "pluton" is now defined as a dwarf planet [2] outside Neptune,
[2] and a dwarf planet is any planet smaller than Mercury.

posted by Plutor at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2006


Mercury Venus Earth Mars Ceres Jupiter Saturn Uranus Pluto Charon Xena.

My Very Eager Man-Child Just Sent Us Perfectly Capable Xenophobes.
posted by Iridic at 7:14 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


So is 2003 UB313 actually named after Xena, from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess?

I don't particularly care if astronomers choose to name random space objects after TV characters, but if it's going to be deemed an actual planet, I've got to draw the line. It's opening the door for future planets named Zaphod; Balok; Ni; Anakin; etc. The nerdiness of scientists will be forever enshrined in history.

My foot is coming down--it's down.

(On preview--I actually bothered to look into this, and my fears are unfounded):

The name "Xena" is frequently heard associated with this planet; this name comes from an internal cod name that we used before we publically announced the existence of the planet. Other code names have been "Santa" (2003 EL61), "Rudolph" (the moon of 2003 EL61), "Easterbunny" (2005 FY9) and "Flying Dutchman" (Sedna), and "Gabrielle" (the moon of 2003 UB313). We use these names internally simply because they are easier to say and remember than things like 2003 EL61 or S/2005 (2003 UB313) 1 . There is no chance whatsoever that these will become the permanent names of these objects! As soon as the committees make their decisions these objects will get real names. When we first announced the existence of these objects we thought that the real names would be decided in days to weeks, not months to years so it never occured to us that these code names would last more than a few days. We hope the committees decide soon so people can start getting used to the real more dignified names soon!
posted by Prospero at 7:16 AM on August 16, 2006


Ditto, Plutor, I was on my way here to post almost exactly the same links.

I like the idea of reclassifying small, round, Pluto-like objects as minor planets known as "plutons," mainly because I suggested it myself (with "plutinos") just a year ago. As long as they don't make our kids memorize the names of all 53+ planets and plutons, this should work as a broad standard for future size-based exoplanetary categorization as well.

To preempt the upcoming Uranus jokes...

Fry: "Hey, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus."
Leela: "I don't get it."
Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."
Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"
Professor: "Urectum."

posted by brownpau at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2006


My Very Eager Man-Child Just Sent Us Perfectly Capable Xenophobes.

Why must Pluto come before Charon in the mnemonic. I'm sick of MetaFilter's anti-Charonic bias!
posted by Plutor at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2006


Serious question: have there been any responses from Astrologers on what these changes would mean to their profession? They found a use for Pluto when it was discovered.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:19 AM on August 16, 2006


There is no chance whatsoever that these will become the permanent names of these objects!

Tell that to teh Intarweb. Xena is a pretty catchy name after all...
posted by Foosnark at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2006


I don't understand why a planetary scientist of all people would name the planet contrary to the other names. Even I remember from grade school that all the planets are named after Roman gods. "Xena" is A. Greek, B. Not a god, C. A fictiticious name.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:32 AM on August 16, 2006


Urectum, hell, Ukilledum! Ahem....

Prospero, I'm a little bummed...I'd like to see plutons named "Vader" and "Spock," myself.
posted by pax digita at 7:33 AM on August 16, 2006


Why must Pluto come before Charon in the mnemonic.

Perfectly Xenophobic Cenobites, then. Also, you forgot Neptune.
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on August 16, 2006


Stevie Nicks deserves a moon of her own. I applaud that decision.

Mike Brown's right, though. The Prague proposal seems to be the worst of all worlds. If the number of "planets" is increased indefinitely, arbitrary distinctions will still be made to distinguish the "classical" planets (Planet Classic8482;) from the "new" planets (New Planet8482;).

Simply describing the Solar System as eight planets, a ninth, Pluto, traditionally regarded as a planet, and X number of moons, planetoids, TNOs etc. seems to me to be the least potentially confusing system of classification.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 AM on August 16, 2006


shit. it ate my html.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:35 AM on August 16, 2006


Yeah right. So we're supposed to call every bit of crud in the kupier belt a planet now? Screw that.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2006


Science Fiction authors John Scalzi and Scott Westerfeld have been debating (humorously) whether Pluto deserves planet status on Scalzi's blog. His daughter has a great video message for "Pluto Hayta" Scott here. (Warning: contains Plush Cthulhu)
posted by Roommate at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2006


Ugh, these definitions reek of committee thinking. Fortunately, they are only proposed definintions.

Why not call simply everything smaller than mercury but beyond neptune a pluton, and everything smaller than mercury closer than neptune an asteroid? That seems to involve the least change to the textbooks, which is bizarrely something the IAU seems concerned about even though most american kids can find France on a map...

Sigh. It was so easy to teach my two year old the planets. I just loaded up Celestia, he pressed the numbers 1 through 9 along the top of the keyboard and got the corresponding planet.

They ruined space, the bastards.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:38 AM on August 16, 2006


Good god, I did. Nine Certifiably Platonic Xenophobes, then.
posted by Iridic at 7:39 AM on August 16, 2006


I for one welcome our new plutonic dwarf planet overlords underdogs.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:39 AM on August 16, 2006


Plush Cthulhu? That's rubbish. We demand proper plush Yuggoth Fungi.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on August 16, 2006


I'm sorry. There are nine planets in this star system. Their names are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. That's how it's always been, and that's how it always will be, no matter what a bunch of guys at a conference says.

(Oh, and that dinosaur with the long neck? It's called a brontosaurus.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2006


Metafilter: it ate my html
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:56 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


You know what? Holst was right all along.

except earth gets to be a planet too
posted by Pastabagel at 7:58 AM on August 16, 2006


The more planets the merrier.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:10 AM on August 16, 2006


Serious question: have there been any responses from Astrologers on what these changes would mean to their profession?

Yes. Paula Hay's "A Mythology for Collapse" (1, 2, 3) talks a good deal about the astrological significance of Charon. I'm not the type to check my horoscope regularly or dignify claims of astrological divination, but as a psycho-mythological exploration, Hay's article is damn interesting stuff.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:24 AM on August 16, 2006


I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more and more planets fall under the ruthless domination of our solar system.
posted by trinarian at 8:36 AM on August 16, 2006


I hate Pluto.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2006


I think it's a bad idea to allow cultural attachment and childhood-mnemonic preference dictate what is and isn't a planet. Without an unambiguous definition (and I'd say this definition, while it makes certain concessions to popular understanding, is not ambiguous) those fighting the redefinition on cultural grounds (and in the political space, as I'm sure they will) are in a very similar position to the fundies fighting evolution with things like "The Bible was good enough for my Pa, so it's good enough for me!" and "I ain't no grandkid of an ape!"

I, for one, welcome... you know the rest.

Hail Ceres! And Pluto/Charon (a 'double' planet, as the center of mass of the system, or barycenter, is actually physically outside of Pluto)! And [Provisionally named UB313]! And all the others.
posted by chimaera at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2006


I'd say this definition, while it makes certain concessions to popular understanding, is not ambiguous

Of course it's ambiguous--Charon and Ceres are planets, but Earth's moon isn't? What's up with that?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:54 AM on August 16, 2006


MetaFilter: ...you know the rest.
posted by Zozo at 8:55 AM on August 16, 2006


This is confusing:
planet, says the committee headed by Harvard astronomer Owen Gingerich, is an object that orbits a star like the sun; is massive enough so its own gravity keeps it roughly round; and isn't a satellite of another planet, like Earth's moon.

That definition already confounds many astronomers: Charon, proposed for promotion to a planet, orbits the sun and is round, but most astronomers have long held that it also orbits Pluto, which makes it a satellite.
...
As for Charon, the committee of astronomers decided that it isn't really a moon because Charon and Pluto circle each other around a common center of gravity -- making the pair, in effect, a "double planet."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2006


Octobersurprise, I disagree that it's ambiguous.

Ceres is a planet because it doesn't orbit another body.

Pluto/Charon is a twin planet, because, technically both Pluto and Charon are orbiting their barycenter -- which is not inside of Pluto.

The Moon and Earth don't orbit a center of mass outside of Earth, as a matter of fact, the center of mass of the Earth-Moon system is very, very deep within the Earth.

It may not set a hard mass floor for planets, but it certainly sets clear guidelines.
posted by chimaera at 9:02 AM on August 16, 2006


earth gets to be a planet too
Earth is not a planet. Planets are pure, clean, sterile spheres. Earth went all green and blue in the back of the fridge, and needs to be thrown out.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:02 AM on August 16, 2006


this is a nice article detailing just how radical are perceptions might be changed by sedna's characteristics. Page 2 especially.
posted by uni verse at 9:02 AM on August 16, 2006


oops -> [radically]
posted by uni verse at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2006


Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. Xena)

The bossman says that in October a smaller, cuter, and gayer satellite will be found circling Ub313. You can guess what they'll name it.
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 9:09 AM on August 16, 2006


are in a very similar position to the fundies fighting evolution

No, they're not, really. No one who objects to the Prague proposal disputes the existence of those planets, merely the best cultural definition of the word "planet." Some people think the word should be used as broadly as possible, opponents think that other terms (planetoids, TNOs, etc.) are adequate to describe the newly discovered solar objects without changing the traditional meaning of the word "planet."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:10 AM on August 16, 2006


The bossman says that in October a smaller, cuter, and gayer satellite will be found circling Ub313. You can guess what they'll name it.

They found it last september.
posted by biffa at 9:14 AM on August 16, 2006


I disagree that it's ambiguous.

If Pluto can be a planet, a double planet, a pluton, and a dwarf, then the definition of those terms is ambiguous. Not wrong, necessarily, but certainly ambiguous. Apparently, other astronomers believe so, too, or they wouldn't be objecting.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:20 AM on August 16, 2006


I think it's a bad idea to allow cultural attachment and childhood-mnemonic preference dictate what is and isn't a planet.

But that's exactly what they've done here: Pluto was going to be relegated to non-planet status, but they chickened out and promoted a bunch of orbiting things to planet status to save Pluto's planetary bacon.
posted by jack_mo at 9:20 AM on August 16, 2006


No one who objects to the Prague proposal disputes the existence of those planets, merely the best cultural definition of the word "planet."

I'd beg to differ with you on this point. The purpose of this proposal is not to comment on the cultural definition, it is to create a scientific definition, and opposition based on tradition, cultural intertia, and general bloodymindedness is very analogous to what I said above.

I don't want to derail, here, and my example was definitely a more extreme version of the phenomenon, so I probably could have found a better way to put it. But debating something like this based on how it "feels" to have Ceres be promoted sounds, well... unscientific.
posted by chimaera at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2006


I think that there are valid reasons to allow Pluto to remain a planet, and to expand the definition to anything with sufficient gravity to become spheroidal.

Where else would you put the cutoff?

There are reasonable notions that could be debated, like inclination to the ecliptic plane or eccentricity. But the problem is not just local, but what of other star systems? What if one were perturbed by a passing star and the planets' inclinations and eccentricities were all jumbled?

I think the IAU proposal deals fairly well with the issue, not just for this solar system, but for others. In the coming decade or two, we'll be finding more planets than you can shake a stick at around other stars -- even small ones the size of Earth and smaller.

A good definition based on physical properties (sufficient mass to be spherical is quite a good place to start here) of a body will aid in the classification not just of other objects like Sedna and 'Xena,' but in the classification and understanding of other solar systems.
posted by chimaera at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2006


damn the metric sysem, I will never change hear me NEVER! -oh wait this isn't the metric thread?
posted by edgeways at 9:39 AM on August 16, 2006


why don't they just stop calling pluto a planet? ... this scheme they're proposing is going to become way too complicated, with hundreds of potential "planets" out there

the plutonian overlords will just have to deal with it ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on August 16, 2006


But debating something like this based on how it "feels" to have Ceres be promoted sounds, well... unscientific.

Because it is. The debate here (or maybe I should say one of the debates here) isn't regarding the existence of solar objects, or the nature of their orbits, or their composition, or the theories of planetary development; the debate is over names and classification. Categories and names will always be a little unscientific. It's pretty unscientific to name astronomical objects after imaginary gods in the first place.

But in fact, you already concede that these proposals make concessions to "popular understandings." Why those popular understandings and not different ones?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2006


nine planets is going to have to change their domain. Did you know "Pluto is the second most contrasty body in the Solar System..."?
posted by snofoam at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2006


I'm still disappointed the moon wasn't blasted out of Earth orbit in 1999.
posted by biffa at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Great opportunity for an entirely new mnemonic. Let's rename them all.
posted by itchylick at 9:58 AM on August 16, 2006


jack_mo: Pluto was going to be relegated to non-planet status, but they chickened out and promoted a bunch of orbiting things to planet status to save Pluto's planetary bacon.

The basic argument is which should get priority in regards to defining a planet. For those people who look at planets as a bestiary of case studies in geophysics, hydrostatic equilibrium and a solar orbit are good criteria. (Solar orbit is an interesting distinction because the geology of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are shaped by tidal forces.) A body that has hydrostatic equilibrium is also likely to have straitification, and possibly dynamics driven by internal heat. The arbitrary exclusion of bodies like Pluto and Sedna before they have even been carefully observed is problematic from that stance

On the other side of the argument is the notion that a planet should be defined according to its relationship to neighbors within a given orbital space. Using this argument, Pluto is not a planet because unlike the inner planets, it is not massive enough to clean out a chunk of the solar system plane.

Personally, I think the argument for demoting Pluto is built on sentiment because it seems to be based on the idea that it would be a bad thing if planetary astronomers expanded their scope of interest to include dozens of bodies rather than just eight. Why is the probability that the solar system may have dozens of planets rather than a handful so bothersome to many people?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:58 AM on August 16, 2006


Well said, KirkJobSluder. I feel that for many the desire to demote Pluto seems to derive from a fear of having "dozens" of planets, and I fail to see what's wrong with that.
posted by chimaera at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2006


Where else would you put the cutoff?

Seems to me the IAU has already proposed a better cutoff: the split between "classical" planets (the current planets minus Pluto) and "pluton" planets (Pluto, Charon, UB313, Ceres, Sedna, etc., etc.). Simply call the two groups "planets" and "plutons" respectively. Done.

That said, this all strikes me as being a bit silly. It's not as though any of these celestial bodies ceases to exist because it's no longer a planet, or suddenly becomes bigger because it now is. The real question is will any new classification system be useful to researchers and laypersons at all? Is there a scientific reason why we should make a distinction between Ceres and Earth and Jupiter, or a reason why we should group them under the same category?
posted by chrominance at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2006


This is getting really confusing. I mean, Pluto is a dog, but he's owned by a mouse?! And lets not even try and figure how Goofy fits in.
posted by marxchivist at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2006


Serious question: have there been any responses from Astrologers on what these changes would mean to their profession? They found a use for Pluto when it was discovered.

Some of them already include planetoids like Ceres or Charon, because it lets them claim to be more scientific than their competition. That's pseudoscience for you: a bunch of crackpots competing to see who's the most comprehensive crackpot.

If you think about, astrologers should love the discovery of new planets, because it gives them an easy excuse for why their old predictions failed -- "I would have predicted that if Xena was on the chart!"
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 10:37 AM on August 16, 2006


chrominance: Is there a scientific reason why we should make a distinction between Ceres and Earth and Jupiter, or a reason why we should group them under the same category?

Well, a reason for grouping all objects large enough to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium together is the possibility that we can create a theory of planetary objects just as we have a theory of stellar objects.

To a large degree, this discussion is premature because we don't know much about the structure of these bodies. I suspect that interest would change dramatically if we found that there was more to Pluto than a rounded-off ball of rubble. Given how many of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter have demonstrated surprising dynamics, I'd place my bets that Plutons will turn out to be quite interesting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:48 AM on August 16, 2006


jefgodesky, the Paula Hay article is about a planetoid named Chiron, between Saturn and Uranus, not about Charon, Pluto's moon. But thank you for that link; I hadn't come across that before.

PinkStainless, astrologers do take astronomical discoveries into consideration. Among serious astrologers there is a search for consensus about what a new body might mean whenever astronomers add to our understanding of the cosmos. The process of coming to consensus about Pluto is still ongoing. There's always someone willing to pop off about it before thinking (true of every group, no?), but at this stage, ideas about Xena, Sedna, and all the rest are purely speculative. The metaphysical theory I have heard is that these planets are discovered when human consciousness is ready to integrate the idea or the function that the planet embodies. if this interests you, read some astrology articles about Pluto and see if it reminds you about anything going on in the 1930s, for instance.

And just to clarify, not all astrology is predictive in nature.
posted by butternut at 11:00 AM on August 16, 2006


Prospero, I'm a little bummed...I'd like to see plutons named "Vader" and "Spock," myself.

I second the motion.
posted by spock at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2006


More planets? Lunacy!

We figured out everything we need to know about the solar system when we discovered Pluto in 1930. Anybody who suggests that we change should be drawn and quartered! Besides, adding planets would just feel wrong. Wrong, I tell you.

What is it with you people and this crazy system of trucks tubes?
posted by grateful at 12:02 PM on August 16, 2006


Phil Plait and his readers weigh in, too
posted by grateful at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2006


Isn't this a bit storm in teacupish? The whole definition is arbitrary anyway, so who cares whether or not some rock is called a planet?
I, for one, like the idea of living in a solar system with >50 planets. Feels more neighbourly, somehow.
posted by signal at 12:11 PM on August 16, 2006


I think it's a bad idea to allow cultural attachment and childhood-mnemonic preference dictate what is and isn't a planet.

Why not? There is absolutly no practical effect of these terms at all.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on August 16, 2006


With dozens of planets in the back pocket I don't feel nearly as bad about trashing #3.

Dude, they're everywhere! Just drop your shit wherever and when everything's too rank to breathe we'll deke outta here
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2006


The worst argument, I think, is that the number of planets would "soar." Okay. So what if they did? Will it be hard to keep track of? Maybe. But what if there are legitimately shit-loads of planets, and not 9 special snowflakes like we thought? We need to keep track of them.

Of course, the definition needs to be refined, but "worrying" about large numbers is unfounded.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 12:38 PM on August 16, 2006


In other news, astrology is bullshit.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2006



posted by peptide at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2006


Wait — quonsar is a planet?

Who cares. You'll all be first against the wall when Keswick becomes king.
posted by nlindstrom at 2:43 PM on August 16, 2006


A bunch of mnemonics (hey, who needs more planets when we can have so much fun with words?):

MVEMCJSUNPC2003 (The 2003UB313 Version)
Most vehicles emit malignant carbon; journeys should usually not proceed, circa 2003.

MVEMCJSUNPCU (The UB313 Version)
More velocity equals more carbon; just standing uses none. Please consider unmovingness.

MVEMCJSUNPCU (The Meta-Mnemonic)
Mississippi? Very easy. Massachusetts? Can just spell using nous. Philippines? Can't understand.

MVEMCJSUNPCX (The Xena Version)
Musical venues emit magical, cintillating, jewel-like sounds, unless negligent players consider xylophones.

MVEMJSUNP (The Backlash Version)
My very earnest man, just show us nine planets.

MVEMJSUN (The Purist Version)
Making vigorous emendations means jettisoning some useful notions.
posted by rory at 3:08 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Man, I can't believe I misspelled "scintillating". Wishful thinking, I guess. Make that "coruscating".
posted by rory at 5:21 PM on August 16, 2006


The actual draft resolution.

Note: "For two or more objects comprising a multiple Theobject system, the primary object is designated a planet if it independently satisfies the conditions above. A secondary object satisfying these conditions is also designated a planet if the system barycentre resides outside the primary."

If Pluto can be a planet, a double planet, a pluton, and a dwarf, then the definition of those terms is ambiguous.

Mmmno... "double", "pluton", and "dwarf" are all subsets of "planet", just like "binary", "supergiant", and "dwarf" are subsets of "star".

Anyway:
Q: What is a dwarf planet?

A: A dwarf planet is a term generally used to describe any planet that is smaller than Mercury. Note that the term “dwarf planet” is simply a descriptive category and not an IAU definition. Terms such as “terrestrial planets” and “giant planets” are additional examples of descriptive categories that are not IAU definitions.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:06 PM on August 16, 2006


Why must Pluto come before Charon in the mnemonic. I'm sick of MetaFilter's anti-Charonic bias!

One should note the current position of the planets, then use the correct mnemonic.

Order, assuming the new rule passes at the IAU:

Mercury Venus Earth Mars Ceres Jupiter Saturn Uranus [ Neptune [Pluto Charon]] 2003 UB313

The brackets represent pair of planets that can switch in an ordered by distance list. So, you need mnemonics for the following states...

Neptune Pluto Charon
Neptune Charon Pluto
Pluto Charon Neptune
Charon Pluto Neptune

...and possibly (and very breifly)....

Charon Neptune Pluto
Pluto Neptune Charon.

(These would happen just as the barycenter of the Pluto Charon system is crossing the orbit of Neptune.)

Get cracking, people! We have amusing phrases with hidden meanings to create!
posted by eriko at 5:44 AM on August 17, 2006


Oh, yeah.

More importantly, they're going to need to remake Interplanet Janet.

posted by eriko at 5:54 AM on August 17, 2006


One should note the current position of the planets, then use the correct mnemonic.

This would make the mnemonic change every 3.25 days (every half-orbit of Charon and Pluto). Man, that would be hell on elementary school kids.

I'd like to brag point out that I've never needed a mnemonic, and never really been able to remember them. It's always seemed easier (to me) to remember Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto than something or other about mothers with pizzas. And a mnemonic doesn't help you a heck of a lot when there are two M planets, or if you can't even remember the names. "N.. N.. Norway? Is that a planet?"
posted by Plutor at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2006


Jeez, with all this talk of mnemonics, it's got me thinking that maybe we should just name everything in the solar system a planet. That way even the stupid can play the game.

And beyond that, why don't we just let markets solve the problem? Here's the deal - we'll put all the names of everything in the solar system up for bidding on eBay, k? After that, the rich can bid on the right to name things, and they get naming rights until they die. We can use the proceeds to fund SETI.
posted by saysthis at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2006


Here's another one.
posted by booksprite at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2006


eriko:

"There's never been There's occasionally been a planet Janet hasn't seen!"

I like it.
posted by LordSludge at 11:22 AM on August 21, 2006


HISTORIANS DEMOTE BUSH TO ‘DWARF PRESIDENT’: ...As with Pluto, which has also been reduced to “dwarf status,” Bush has a relatively eccentric orbit, inclined to six degrees of separation from reality.
Also, in another parallel with Pluto, Bush orbits among various icy wrecks, including Iraq, New Orleans and the entire federal budget. ...

; >
posted by amberglow at 11:07 AM on August 25, 2006


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