How to remember the Zodiac!

7 11 2010

So I asked the greater planetarium community last week for whatever mnemonics they use to remember the order of the Zodiacal constellations.  As a reminder, the constellations are:

Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces

It’s a lot of words.  Any mnemonic would be really long as well.  Memorizing that mnemonic would probably take more effort than just memorizing the list.  Still, I was optimistic.

However, what I got back from them wasn’t exactly memorable.

Now given, what responses I got were well thought out and creative, no doubt.  They just weren’t really — memorable.  For instance, I received one response that read, “A Tense Grey Cat Lay Very Low, Sneaking Slowly, Contemplating a Pounce.”

That one would be the easiest to remember by far!  The problem is in the flow of the thing.  Remember the one about the planets?  “My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.”  See how the rhythm makes all the difference?

So I took myself to task to create a mnemonic device on my own!  Turns out that’s a lot harder than it sounds.  I spent a good part of my weekend staring at my keyboard and perusing a thesaurus.  In the end, none of the ones I came up with flowed at all.  None.  I’m a failure at writing catchy mnemonics it seems.

But…  (hehe)  after much frustration I *did* happen to make a few slightly more memorable!  Here’s what I came up with:

Around Thanksgiving, grandpas condone letting vivacious little spry sprouts carve a pumpkin.

Active tectonic gyrations could launch volcanic lava skyward, surely causing a panic.

Any time granny covets Leo’s vegan lunch, she should cut a pizza.

Antsy tribbles give captains love.  Valued lush Scottie shouts, “Cut all power!”

As trusty gopher Chekov locates vessels, logical Spock studies cute aquarium personnel.

Anakin truly gone, corrupt Lord Vader labeled Solo-shaped carbonite, “Airmail Parcel.”

After Tatooine, grouchy Chewbacca luckily veered left steering safely clear around Porkins.

Acid trips give class lectures vivid life something something …cool astral plane!

Obviously, I should’ve spent more time getting actual work done.  But what I ended with is one that I really might try to memorize for personal use.  It seems the most …relevant.

“A time gone, cowboys loved viewing little stars, so cold and pretty.”

Umm, now that I think about it, I think I’ll go for the “Leo the vegan” one instead.

 

Update:  It’s been many years since I wrote this, and I have to say that last one has stuck with me!  Thank you to the folks who have added their own.  The key to making astronomy accessible to the public is to make it easy to remember what the sky looks like from night to night.  Clear skies!

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17 responses

8 11 2010
Antoinette

“Active tectonic gyrations could launch volcanic lava skyward, surely causing a panic.”
This personally would have to be my favorite!

10 11 2010
Infinitewell

Heh. That was actually the easiest of the list to come up with.

Speaking of seismic activity… I went to the meeting in Guy last night about the recent events in the area. It was very much like trying to hear a science lecture during a Tea Party rally.

10 11 2010
Ethan

Except now it’s been reduced to: “My very eager mother just served us nine…”

Perhaps a change to “noodles” or “nachos” is in order… *Grumbles about IAU ruining childhood*

11 11 2010
freaksworth

Thhhbttt! I’m one of those who knew Pluto as a planet far longer than you, and it’s demotion was long overdue, IMO. It is most surely a large comet within the Kuiper belt, and to keep it as a planet would mean that we would have to add several more new planets to the mnemonic. :o)

11 11 2013
Ep. 319: The Zodiac | Astronomy Cast

[…] Constellation Mnemonics – Infinitewell […]

21 11 2013
Al.

Just imagine leanardo da vinci enters a cafeteria and sees giant scorpions sitting on the chairs talking and eating akward foods of all kinds. just picture this and read the following,,:)

…AT Gemini Cafe, Leanardo Vinci Looked at Scorpions Snacking Cats/ Coffee and Peas..

15 12 2013
Amanda

Read this somewhere else so can’t take credit, but it is memorable:
As The Great Cook Likes Very Little Salt, She Continuously Adds Pepper

2 09 2015
Leo Blackman

All The Great Constellations Live Very Long Since Stars Can’t Alter Physics

8 04 2016
Alex Davo

all the great constellations look very lovely; shining stars creating animal patterns

28 06 2016
Ankita Ray

Hey Alex thanks a lot man! I was struggling to learn this and your mnemonics made my job easier :)

2 06 2016
Shea

Although this one is somewhat inappropriate, I wanted one to help me remember the zodiac in the order in which they appear in the sky: Lesbians Can Guarantee Taunting Apples, Pear-shaped Asses, Cuddling, Selfish Sensations (and) Lustful Vulgarity.

22 02 2017
jimxjones

You inspired me to make a couple of more offensive version with a more coherent structure to make them easier to remember. (One of my ex’s also provided some inspiration :))

Please don’t read any further if you are easily (or moderately) offended in any case.

X-Rated version: (or standard offensive version)
Lucy Can Guarantee Tits / Arse / Pussy. Also Clean-Shaven Slowly-Licked Vagina.

XXX-Rated version (or extra offensive male chauvinistic pig version)
Lucy Coming Guarantees Total Arse Penetration, Always Craves Slick Snatch Licked Voraciously.

30 07 2016
Ashley

Any
Time
Granny
Cooks
Leo’s
Vegan
Lunch
She
Should
Cut
A
Pizza

17 10 2016
frankaquin0

A top genius could look very loopy sending Santa Clause a parcel

23 11 2016
Pedro

Any Time Granny Cooks Leo’s Vegan Lunch She Secretly Combines A Piece of Pork

22 02 2017
jimxjones

“As trusty gopher Chekov locates vessels, logical Spock studies cute aquarium personnel” – I like this one the most, because it looks like a scene that would have been on the show.

26 08 2017
Infinitewell

This is *actually* from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

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