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How to buy a star and name it after yourself or another person

Posted by buyastar on May 30th, 2020

There are many services which will let you name a star in the sky after a friend, family or loved one. You can commemorate virtually anything: a special day, or the life of an amazing person. However, is it really possible to name a star?

The answer is - as with a lot of things - yes, and no.

The International Astronomical Union is the authority for defining astronomical names. They’re the same people that voted that Pluto is not a planet.

Famous names such as Betelgeuse, Sirius, or Rigel have been passed down through history.. Others were named after highly influential astronomers and other famous people.

These are the common names, agreed upon by the above astronomical community.

Most stars, especially ones with a lower brightness, are only given coordinates with a catalog designation. There are millions upon millions of stars out there without office names and thus are referred to by a large sequence of letters and numbers for a name. To put this in perspective, there’s the Gliese catalog of nearby stars, or the Guide Star Catalog which contains over 900 million stars.

The IAU hasn’t taken on any new names for stars, and likely won’t - although never say never. The reality is that numbers are much more useful for astronomers than individually named stars - they still need to be looked up into coordinates to be useful..

But what about the companies that will offer to let you buy a star? Each of these companies maintains their own private registry containing their database of names mapped to coordinates. They’ll provide a well-presented certificate and instructions for finding it in the sky, but these names are not recognized by the international astronomical community.

As a result, you won’t see your name appearing in any scientific research journals - but this doesn’t really matter. Only the most scientific of folk would look there. In fact, it’s possible that the star you’ve named with one organization will be given a different name by another group - but it’s difficult to know for sure.

So can you really name a star after yourself or a loved one? Pretty much “yes” - with a little bit of “no”.

Also See: International Astronomical, Astronomical Community, After Yourself, Youve Named, Star, Name, Names

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