2.27.2008 11:09 AM

A New Mnemonic for the 11 Planets (Yes, 11)

Ceres? Eris? Just Sing "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet..."

11 planet solar system map

Bonus points if you can recite all 11 planets in the solar system in Spanish, using the new English mnemonic: 'My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants.'

(Note: UB 313, far-right, has been renamed Eris.)

Photo: Pepe Robles / Wikimedia Commons

By Dan Shapley

Congratulations to 10-year-old Maryn Smith of Great Falls, Mont., who won a National Geographic contest that asked contestants to come up with a new mnemonic device to remember the 11 planets that astronomers now recognize in our solar system.

We are all familiar with Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and the identity crisis of dwarf planet Pluto. But two other dwarfs to make the official tally are Ceres, sandwiched between Mars and Jupiter, and Eris, out there beyond Pluto.

Smith's very exciting solution to the problem: "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants."

The songstress Lisa Loeb will record the mnemonic in song for an upcoming National Geographic Children's Books publication, 11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System.


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