In 2006, there were enough bodies in the solar system as large or larger than the planet after which Mickey Mouse's dog was named that solar status had to be redefined. Either Pluto had to drop down into a smaller category of dwarf planets - with several more recently discovered solar bodies - or the number of planets would have to be increased to 12 or 13. Either way, third-graders everywhere will have to find a new correlation to encourage them to learn multiplication tables.

 I was a third-grader when the solar system began spinning out of control.

The laws of gravity were still in effect, but new discoveries and definitions radically changed how we viewed our planetary neighborhood.

One times one is one. One times two is two. One times three is three. And so I continued through one times nine is nine, and I had made the first step. My personal rocket ship moved from the sun to Mercury on the teacher's bulletin board.

My mathematical prowess continued, and so did my progress through the cardboard solar system until I reeled off nine times nine is eighty-one. That final phrase propelled my rocket to Pluto.

Years later, that zenith was brought back to a more mundane orbit when scientists got together and decided Pluto wasn't a planet at all.

All my hard work memorizing the multiplication tables had left me on one of several newly categorized dwarf planets.

Obviously, I felt cheated.

It was in 1978 when astronomers confirmed that Pluto had a moon. That discovery also helped astronomers discover that Pluto was about 20 times smaller than they initially believed.

This new knowledge led the astronomers to get together and revise the definition of what makes a heavenly body a planet.

In 2006, there were enough bodies in the solar system as large or larger than the planet after which Mickey Mouse's dog was named that solar status had to be redefined. Either Pluto had to drop down into a smaller category of dwarf planets - with several more recently discovered solar bodies - or the number of planets would have to be increased to 12 or 13.

Either way, third-graders everywhere will have to find a new correlation to encourage them to learn multiplication tables.

The problem with this entire process is that there are no absolutes. According to the International Astronomical Union, planets are what they say they are.

Their formal definition can include or exclude anything they choose.

The current definition of a planet has a three-pronged test:

1) Orbits the sun
2) Has a nearly round shape
3) Has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

An argument against the quality of this definition is that if Earth was in Pluto's orbit, its gravitational pull would not be sufficient to clear it's own orbit. Apparently life is a little more crowded in the Kuiper Belt.

I am going to begin lobbying the IAU immediately in hopes that the new definition of a planet would include me.

I have a pretty significant gravitational pull - often attracting bad luck, extra work and angry emails at an alarming rate.

It would be a true honor to have one of these new planets or dwarf planets named after you. But it would be a far greater honor to actually become a planet.

My mom always said that with hard work and a few breaks I could be anything I wanted to be.       I want to be a planet.

At the upcoming IAU conference, I'll finally have my chance.

Kent Bush writes for the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.