I’m willing to give up Pluto if we can have a better ninth planet

Have you all heard about this big planet that seems pretty likely to be way out beyond Neptune?

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune

Apparently this putative planet explains a lot of weird observations. I like it. Hopefully someone will spot it soon — people are now looking, I gather.

Planet Nine is a good name, too. I hope it’s out there and I hope they keep the name. It’s evocative of Plan Nine From Outer Space, which is funny, and I like the idea of giving the ninth planet a meta kind of name, and I like that it starts with the same letter as “Pluto,” thus allowing us to complete the familiar mnemonic My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine ….

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6 thoughts on “I’m willing to give up Pluto if we can have a better ninth planet”

  1. I hadn’t heard that mnemonic before; the one I knew was Mother Very Thoughtfully Made A Jelly Sandwich Under No Protest, for Mercurius – Venus – Terra (Earth) – Mars – Asteroid belt – Jupiter – Saturnus – Uranus – Neptunus – Pluto.
    I know Pluto’s been disbarred from the planets, but the asteroid belt is not a planet either but it is a significant element and therefor included. If that’s allowed, one can admit Pluto too, at least till its replacement is found!
    I don’t think Planet IX would be allowed under the astronomical naming conventions. We’d need to think up another mythological deity starting with P- if we want to keep the mnemonics intact, and nominate that when the new planet is found.

  2. It turns out that everyone seems to know a different version, although I think every one I’ve heard so far starts with “Mother Very”. Whoops, not really. I was thinking of “My very”. Letting Mercury be “mother” is actually one I hadn’t seen before.

    You’re probably right about naming conventions, but in a way I would like to keep the name Planet Nine. Is Persephone taken? That seems like a dainty name for a big planet, but it’s the only one I can think of starting with P.

  3. Persephone (and the less-euphonious Latin version Proserpina) are already asteroids. Actually, I suspect coming up with a Roman deity name that *isn’t* already an asteroid will be hard: we may have to double-up — these days, asteroids have numbers in front of their names, so we can use that as an excuse.

  4. I like Persephone/Proserpina, and it’s a nice companion name to Pluto/Hades. If it’s got a very elliptical orbit (as I read somewhere) it would fit somewhat with the story too, leaving for the outer darkness and cold, and coming back to life and warmth.

    I don’t think it has to be a Roman or Greek deity, other pantheons should be allowed according to the rules, and have been usd for smaller objects already. I don’t know enough about other mythologies to comecup with good suggestions.

  5. Hanneke, I love the idea of naming the planet Persephone because it goes out into the cold and then comes back inward toward the sun. Even if there’s already an asteroid named Persephone, so what? I mean, we’re going to run out of gods long before we run out of astrological objects, even if we agree we can use all pantheons.

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