How to Buy Someone a Star

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It sounds romantic, doesn't it? Naming a star after your sweetheart, knowing that people will gaze upon it for eternity. As long as you're aware that official astronomical organizations will never recognize your star's name (and will laugh if you ask), it's your money to burn.

  • Be aware that no matter what claims a company makes, the star name you purchase and have registered has absolutely no validity among the scientific community, and will not be recognized by anyone else on the planet. Yes, it may be copyrighted, but you can copyright your grocery list. Sorry.

  • Search online for star-naming Web sites, such as International Star Registry (starregistry.com) or Buy-A-Star (buy-a-star.com), pay about $60 to $160 and you'll get a package that includes an official-looking parchment certificate with your star's name on it, a dedication date and telescopic coordinates of the star. But wait--act now and you'll also receive an informative booklet with charts of the constellations, plus a larger, more detailed chart with your star encircled in red.

  • Conduct your own star search. Finding your star will probably be impossible without a telescope. Worse, the coordinates given by star-naming companies are often inaccurate. Most people who buy a star never actually see it.

  • Save your money. If you really want to name a star after someone, find a nice, twinkling star together (make sure it's not a planet or satellite), plot it on a star chart, name it, and print a certificate on fancy paper. It will be just as valid as the certificate from any commercial star-registry service.

Tips & Warnings

  • There is nothing to prevent a star-naming company from selling the same star to different people.
  • Do not embarrass yourself by asking an astronomer to point the telescope toward your star.
  • Only the International Astronomical Union can officially name celestial bodies, and it names stars using catalog numbers, not people's names. No private company has ever been given the authority to name stars.

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