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The nine planets are important to remember if you wish to learn about the Solar System. But what is the best approach to remember them and what order are they in? This article’s goal is to accomplish that.
By the end, you’ll have a simple approach to impress that you may use to wow your family and friends. So, how do you keep track of the planets’ positions?
Using a memory technique is the greatest approach to memorizing the planets and their order. The acronym learning approach, acrostics, employing stories, and a technique known as the method of loci or through association are the greatest techniques for the planets.
In either case, we tend to remember things that are interesting to us, memorable, entertaining, or ridiculous.
Let’s look at the planets and their order first, then look at each of these four well-known learning techniques and how you may utilize them to effortlessly recall the planets.
What order do the planets go in from the sun?
Some folks can memorize this one-line poem and be done with the task; they don’t need any special techniques to maintain the solar system order straight in their heads.
Others can profit from a planets acronym or a statement made up of eight words whose first letters are the same as the planets’ first letters in order from Mercury to Neptune. A rudimentary overview of the solar system is useful before diving into this.
The solar system consists of the sun (named “Sol” by the ancient Romans) and everything that orbits or revolves around it due to the sun’s gravitational field.
Planets, moons, asteroids, meteors, comets, and meteoroids are among these objects, which are listed in descending order of size.
Because they are mostly comprised of rock, the innermost four planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are known as the terrestrial planets.
The asteroid belt is a well-clustered ring of orbital material between Mars and Jupiter that contains about 750,000 so-called small planets.
The gas giants, or Jovian planets, are the remaining four (for the time being) planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). (The name “Jovian” is derived from “Jupiter,” the largest and most well-known of the gas giants.)
The acknowledged outer frontier of the solar system is around 9 billion miles from the sun. The Earth is around 93 million miles from the sun, which means that the solar system’s distant reaches are nearly 100 times as far away from the sun as the Earth.
Because light travels at a speed of almost 186,000 miles per second (186,282 miles per second), light from the sun takes more than 13 hours to reach the solar system’s outer limits. However, if 9 billion miles seems like a long way, consider that light from the sun takes nearly four years to reach the nearest star.
The planets are named after well-known gods from Greek and Roman mythology.
Mercury (Hermes in Greek) was the deity of messengers. Mercury, with its narrow orbit (43 million miles from the sun) and hence short year (88 days), appears to whizz back and forth across the sky with remarkable speed compared to the other four visible planets from Earth’s vantage point.
(Can you figure out what they are based on the information we’ve already given you?) Mercury is only slightly larger than the Moon, measuring about one-third the diameter of the Earth.
Despite being far further from the sun than Mercury, Venus (Aphrodite) is the hottest planet, orbiting at a distance of 67 million miles.
It is the closest planet to Earth and the brightest in the sky, in part due to its proximity but also due to its dense, methane-rich atmosphere, which retains heat extremely well. It is slightly smaller than Earth, but its surface conditions are vastly different.
For completeness, we’ve included the planet Earth, which you’re likely to recall on your own. It orbits the sun at a distance of 93 million miles on average.
The fact that the sun’s disk and the moon’s disk appear to be almost identical in size in the Earth’s sky is just coincidental astronomical geometry.
The color that immediately differentiates Mars (Ares) from the rest of the planetary herd has earned it the nickname “the Red Planet.” Mars orbits the sun in about two Earth years, despite being approximately 129 million miles away.
It is thought to have originally housed considerable volumes of water, which is required for life, and has been the topic of extensive probe study as well as the setting for numerous science-fiction stories.
Jupiter (Zeus) is the first of the gas giants and, aside from the sun, the largest object in the solar system, weighing twice as much as all of the other planets put together.
As of mid-2018, 79 moons had been verified orbiting the planet known for its southern hemisphere’s Bright Red Spot.
Surprisingly, a single spin of this massive object 500 million miles from the sun takes only 10 hours.
The exquisite rings of Saturn (Cronos) are well-known. The rings of all the gas giants can be seen with a good pair of binoculars when they are not pointed directly toward Earth.
It is the farthest planet known to the ancients, the most distant planet visible to the naked eye. Galileo first discovered its rings in the 1600s.
Uranus (Caelus), discovered in 1781, revolves around the sun every 84 Earth years. It’s unique for its 11 little rings, bluish color, and the fact that its rotation axis is nearly horizontal as if knocked over.
Some astronomers believe the tilt is the result of a collision with another massive object early in the planet’s existence.
Despite being 2.7 billion miles from the sun, Neptune (Poseidon) is only a third of the way to the solar system’s edge.
Neptune has only made one revolution around the sun since its discovery in 1811 because it takes 165 Earth years to orbit the sun. It is thought to be the windiest of the eight planets.
How to remember the order of the planets – the best 4 methods
There are four distinct memory strategies that can be employed to great advantage when studying the planets (or any other subject in astronomy).
Let us know whether you want us to take a look at each one.
Method #1 – acroynm technique
Acronyms are terms formed by combining the first letter of each word to be remembered.
As a result, each letter functions as a planet that you must remember.
To make the planets’ acronym, all we have to do is take the initial letter of each planet from the list above MVEMJSUN.
So you can recall the word as ‘mevumjesun’ in your head.
The problem with using the acronym strategy here is that there are two planets that start with the letter ‘M.’ As a result, in order for the acronym approach to operate, you must remember the distinction.
Method #2 – acrostics technique
An acrostic is a fancy word for how you may recall anything by using a witty sentence or sequence of letters. It’s similar to the acronym strategy above; however, instead of remembering just the first letter, you replace it with a different memorable word.
With this strategy, you can virtually make up any memorable sentence you choose.
However, here are some instances of planets that are widely used:
My-Very-Excellent-Mother-Just-Served-Us-Noodles (or Nachos)
Many-Very-Energetic-Martians-Jump-Straight-Under-Nine-Planets (If you are including Pluto)
The benefit of this strategy is that it is really easy to remember because you can make the sentence ridiculous.
You can even insert some of the planets into the statement to help you differentiate, just like in the second example. Mercury vs. Mars, for example.
Method #3 – story technique
With the tale approach, you’ll need to imagine a scenario in which a specific term, character, or event provides you with clues about the planet you need to remember.
You’d have to set up a sequence of events so that the next planet is activated by a word in the story.
So, using the planets, you could make a story about a Mountain Goat on a Volcano Erupting Magma, which falls on a Jellyfish in the Sea Until it Naps.
That is merely an example; you can pick any story that appeals to you. Make it sound a little goofy, though, as this will help you remember it.
Method #4 – method of loci technique
The Method of Loci is a type of visualization (or mental walk) that can aid with memory recall. It is most typically utilized by kinesthetic learners, although it is beneficial to many others who try it.
By visualizing a specific location, you are effectively visually arranging information in your head.
As a result, you’d start by picturing a place that is very familiar to you, such as your house.
You’ll need a defined course to follow, as well as the ability to mentally visualize stuff in the area. These objects can be pre-existing or created from scratch.
As an example, consider walking through the front door and placing your Mercury car keys on the table in your home. Then you turn around and discover a Venus razor on the floor (and so on).
Method #5 – association technique
Associating planets is a fantastic technique to remember them. You’re associating the planets with something you’re already familiar with.
When you do this with photographs, you will find it easier to remember the information. Furthermore, if you can organize the material, this strategy will be more effective.
People, places, events, and situations can all be associated.
Imagine a movie scene in which every character, piece of scenery, and so on is associated with a planet.
Alternatively, you may make a list of performers, each of whom refers to a different planet.
- Village People,
- Elton John,
- Mariah Carey,
- James Brown,
- Spice Girls,
In this manner, you can envision them all in the same room and combine this technique with the Method of Loci described above.
Method #6 – sing a song
Putting the planets’ names to music can help you recall their order. There are some songs that can help you remember basic knowledge about each planet and its order.
“Planets Song,” for example, is available as an audio file from Amazon or iTunes.
Other examples, downloadable music files, and videos of other planet songs can be found online.
Method #7 – Use the journey method
You mentally move through an area, such as a house, using the journey approach. Assign each planet to a distinct room in a vast home. Assign each planet an image and an explanation for its presence in a certain space.
Visualize yourself walking through the rooms in the correct order, stopping to visit each planet along the way.
Sentences to remember the size of the planets
Largest to smallest:
Jason Sat Under Ninety-Eight Vicious Monster Munching Penguins
Smallest to largest:
Pete’s Mother made Val’s Elephant Nestle Under Sam’s Jumper.
Pluto Must Meet Venus Every Night Until Saturn Jumps.
Plump Mrs. Martian Voted Every Ninth Unicorn Should Jump.
Pop Music Makes Vikings Even Naughtier Until Saxons Jiggle.
Is Pluto a planet?
For years, Pluto was regarded as an outlier among planets for a variety of reasons. Still, its status as a planet was never questioned until additional objects resembling Pluto but not in danger of being classified as planets began to collect in the astronomical community.
It is smaller than the Moon, but it has its own five satellites. The largest, Charon, is nearly half the size of Pluto, forming a double-planet system rather than a planet-(or dwarf-planet-) moon system.
Pluto’s orbit is so eccentric or oval-shaped that it occasionally straddles Neptune’s orbit (this last happened between 1979 and 1999).
This meant that when Pluto was a planet, it wasn’t always the one closest to the sun, causing the generally memorized sequence to be thrown out.
Other objects in the solar system received an upgrade after Pluto was reduced to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006.
Ceres, the largest of the 750,000 asteroids, was one of them. Even though Ceres is 14 times smaller than Pluto, it is thought to account for a third of the mass of the entire asteroid belt.
Haumea is the nearest of the three dwarf planets further away from Pluto, orbiting the sun in 285 Earth years. It’s a fourth of the Earth’s size. Next is Makemake, which orbits the sun in 310 Earth years and is nearly as massive as Pluto. It was discovered in 2005.
Finally, Eris, the furthest known dwarf planet, is three times the distance between the sun and Pluto. Its discovery in 2005, together with the fact that it is similar in size to Pluto, sparked a major discussion concerning Pluto’s status as a planet.
Putting aside all other reasons, the assignment of a different label to Pluto has made it easier to remember the sequence of the planets since they now naturally organize themselves in symmetrical groups of four – the terrestrial on the inside and the gas giants on the outside.
When you have a few tricks under your sleeve, remembering the eight planets is a breeze.
Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that are effective and appropriate for various types of learners. You can also mix and match the strategies, combining them to increase their effectiveness.
Try them all out and see how you like them.
Just remember to make them humorous and memorable, and they’ll be ingrained in your long-term memory in no time!
Bonus, there are some planets you can see without a telescope, check out which ones those are.