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August 29, 2006 > Pluto's demotion may spell confusion

Pluto's demotion may spell confusion

WASHINGTON (AP), Aug 25 _ ``My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas.''

That and variations on it are the way millions of people learned to remember the names of the planets in the solar system _ Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

The problem is that an international convention of astronomers decreed Thursday that tiny Pluto no longer meets the definition of a planet.

What a way to spoil a good mnemonic. Now how will students learn the planets?

Some possibilities:

  • My Very Extravagant Mother Just Sent Us Nachos.

  • My Very Elderly Mother Just Sits Up Nights.

  • Major Volcanoes Erupt, Making Jolts, Shaking, Unsteadying Nerves.

  • Make Very Extraordinary Meals of Jell-O, Strawberries and Unsalted Nuts.

  • Mary's Violet Eyes Make Jack Stare Until Noticed.

  • My Very Exotic Mistress Just Showed Up Nude (perhaps this one is for college lads).

The planetary change also spells trouble for science museums.

The National Air and Space Museum, for example, has a popular song called ``The Family of the Sun,'' set to the tune of ``The Farmer in the Dell,'' that children love and which helps them learn the planets.

Spokesman Mike Marcus said a decision on rewriting it has not been made yet.

The museum also has a scale model of the solar system outside that spans the length of the National Mall.

At least cutting planets eliminated fears that the museum model would have to float new, more distant planets, in the Potomac River to stay on scale.
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