The Comm and Gender Spot

Friday, August 25, 2006

Downsizing on an Enormous Scale

Throughout elementary, middle, and high school I learned that our solar system has nine planets. Somewhere around the third grade I learned a mnemonic to help me remember the names of the nine planets and the order they are from the sun.

I was able to remember Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto I just had to remember “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles.” It was definitely a clever way to help a 10 year old learn just a little bit of astronomy.

Yesterday the International Astronomical Union decided that our solar system only has eight planets. What qualifies as a planet changed; therefore Pluto ended up being reclassified as a dwarf.

This is a big change in the world of science and astronomy. Kids going back to school this fall will have text books with incorrect information. Posters and models of the solar system that show all the planets are now inaccurate. Such a change as this renders a lot of educational materials inaccurate and requires school to invest money in getting accurate materials.

And what about that mnemonic? I guess I have to figure out some new way to remember the Milky Way’s eight planets.


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