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  Earth to be renamed as 'Gandalf'
Updated 01 April 2004, 08.21
Planets
Astronomers have decided to rename the planets of the Solar System after characters from Lord of the Rings.

From 1 April next year, Earth will be known as the planet Gandalf, while Mars will be renamed Frodo.

"We took the decision after the success of the Return of the King at the Oscars," said Prof Lia Polorf, a spokesman for the Committee Of Names.

"The committee reviews the names of the planets every 50 years and we thought it was time for a change."

Among the other planet names that will change next year are Mercury (which will become Merry) and Pluto (Sauron).

10th planet

Fact File
The new names in full
Mercury - Merry
Venus - Pippin
Earth - Gandalf
Mars - Frodo
Jupiter - Legolas
Saturn - Saruman
Uranus - Gimli
Neptune - Aragorn
Pluto - Sauron
Sedna - Shadowfax?

Astronomers are still arguing whether the recently discovered "10th planet" in our Solar System - Sedna - should be included in the list.

Tolkien fans want to call it Shadowfax - after Gandalf's horse.

But what does look likely is that our Moon will get a new name too.

"After years of just being called Moon, we thought it would good to give it a proper name - so we've chosen Gollum," said Prof Polorf.

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