Learning the order of the planets is actually very easy. The best way to remember the order of the planets is to use a mnemonic, which is a simple phrase that triggers a memory.
The Planets' Order
The order of the planets begins with the planet closest to the sun, which is Mercury, then extends away from the sun. In order, the planets are Mercury Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
There are lots of simple mnemonics to help you remember this order. Here are a few examples:
In each of these mnemonics, the first letter of each word in the phrase corresponds to the first letter of each planet, in order. If you don't like these mnemonics, you can create your own. Just remember that the first letter of each word needs to be M, V, E, M, J, S, U and N, in that order.
What About Pluto?
The solar system used to consist of nine planets. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union defined three conditions that a celestial body must meet to be considered a planet:
Pluto failed to meet the third condition, which astronomers refer to as "clearing the neighborhood." Pluto's mass is quite small, and there are other objects in its orbit with a large mass, meaning that Pluto doesn't have enough gravitational pull to keep its orbit clear of large objects.
The solar system contains other bodies, many that are between the planets. There is a belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are chunks of debris that are made from rock and metal. There are also comets, which are fast-moving balls of ice that can take thousands of years to orbit the sun.
When making solar system projects for kids, you can always order a solar system mobile kit. But you can make the project even more fun if you're willing to go the extra mile, literally.
Check out these fun astronomy facts for kids when you're looking for a science project. Your kids can also build up their online research skills as they learn more about astronomy.