Mungo put the finishing
touches around the house. He had spent an hour decorating the walls with
pictures of outer space. There were pictures of the planets, space ships,
aliens, and stars. He was happy with the way the room looked. "What do you
think, Ginger? Does it look Ďspaceyí?" Mungo laughed.
DING DONG! "Hello, wee
Hamish. How are you doing tonight? Come on inside," Mungo said without
waiting for an answer.
"Hello, Mr. McGee. Wow,
what have you done to the walls? Are we talking about space ships
tonight?" wee Hamish asked.
"In a way. Weíre talking
aboutÖ.." DING DONG! "Let me get the door first and then Iíll tell you."
Mungo opened the door. "Hello wee Fiona and Gavin, and how are you tonight
Andy?" he asked, inviting them in.
"Wow, Mr. McGee? Are you
going to tell us a story about aliens? Are we going for a ride on a space
ship?" Gavin joked.
"Very funny, Gavin. Donít
frighten the wee ones though with talk of aliens," Mungo warned, lovingly.
"Weíre not scared of
aliens, Mr. McGee," said wee Fiona, proudly.
"Iím not either," added wee
DING DONG! "Well, Iím very
happy to hear that. You go and help yourself to the snacks and Iíll get
the door." He opened it to welcome Gregor and Morag. "Everyoneís here
"What kind of snacks are
these?" asked Gregor.
"Iíve purchased some Ďmoon
piesí, some nebula bars, a few milky way sandwiches and one or two Martian
crisps. Eat up then," he urged. They did.
"Gather round," Mungo said
a few minutes later. "Tonight Iím going to tell you a story about outer
space. Iíll try not to make it too scary. First of all though, who knows
all the planets in our solar system?"
"I donít," said Andy. "I
know Earth and Mars."
"I see, nobody knows.
Hereís a way to learn then. Thereís a sentence Ė My very eager mother just
served us nine pizzas. You can remember that way," Mungo smiled.
"Thereís a planet called
Nine Pizzas?" asked Gregor.
"No, donít be silly. This
is a way to learn the planets. Take the first letter of each word and
thatís what the planet begins with. Mercury is the first, Venus, Earth,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto."
"I get it, Mr. McGee. If we
remember that sentence, it will help us remember all the planets," Gavin
"Youíve got it. Our planet
is what?" Mungo asked.
"Earth," boasted wee
"Thatís right. Who knows
the answer to this? Is Scotland above or below the equator?" he asked
"Scotland is above,"
answered Morag. "Australia is below. My Auntie Sheila lives in Australia
and my Uncle John lives in New Zealand. Theyíre both below the equator."
"Thatís very good, Morag.
Do any of you know how many miles we are away from the sun?" Mungo asked.
"Lots," answered Andy.
"Millions," added Morag.
"We are 93 million miles
away from the sun."
"Thatís a long way," said
"Now that you know a little
bit more about the planets, weíll begin our story," Mungo started.
"Mr. McGee, instead of a
story, can we just talk more about the planets?" asked Gavin.
"What do the rest of you
"Yes, lets learn more,"
said Gregor. The others nodded in agreement.
"All right then. Weíll talk
about some space words. Who knows what a comet is?" Mungo asked.
"I remember seeing a comet
once," Andy said.
"A comet is a celestial
body, like a small planet that moves around the sun. It is surrounded by
sort of a mist and sometimes has a tail to it. Several years ago Halleyís
comet passed our earth. Thatís probably the one you saw, Andy. Have you
ever heard of an asteroid?" Mungo asked.
"I havenít heard of a
stroid," wee Fiona giggled.
"An asteroid is another
large rock and it also revolves around the sun, but most of them are found
between Mars and Jupiter. They donít do much; just float there. Another
thing that you hear about in space is a meteor. They are chunks of rock or
metal that fall through space and when they enter the earthís atmosphere
they burn up. If they donít burn up and fall to earth, they are called
"Have any meteors hit the
earth?" Morag asked.
"I donít want one to hit my
house," sighed a worried wee Hamish.
"Donít worry, bairns.
Meteorites rarely happen. They usually burn up as soon as they go through
the earthís atmosphere." Seeing how he needed to change the subject, Mungo
said, "Who can remember the names of the planets? Who was paying
Gavin shouted, "I remember.
I remember. My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas. That means
the planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,
Neptune and Pluto."
"Very good, Gavin.
Excellent. Mercury is very close to the sun. Itís so close that nothing
can live on it. Itís too hot. Itís even too hot on Venus. Earth is in the
perfect place. Mars is too cold. Scotland is in the perfect place on our
planet, donít you agree, bairns?" Mungo asked.
"I love living in Scotland.
Iím glad there are no meteorites here," Gregor said.
"I love living here too,
Mr. McGee," Andy said. "My mum and dad are taking me to the Trossachs next
weekend." He grinned.
"Thatís one of the
loveliest places in Scotland. Youíre very lucky." DING DONG! "There are
your mums and dads. Tonight you can practice your planets. Iím sure
theyíll be so proud of you," Mungo said, getting up to answer the door.
That night, after all the
bairns had left, Mungo took Ginger and went outside. He gazed up into the
sky. "Thereís Orion," he pointed out. "Thereís the Big Dipper and see,
Ginger, that bright star, thatís Venus. I wish I could have shown the
bairns. Maybe next week." Just then a shooting star darted across the sky.
Mungo gasped in delight. He stood outside for a while longer, gazing into
the heavens and then headed for the house. "Come on, Ginger," he called,
"itís time for bed."