When You Wish Upon a Star… Can You Buy It?

by M-Berens

Even Hollywood's stars have purchased star naming rights for fellow stars.

There are plenty of websites out in cyberspace that claim to sell the naming rights to people who want to buy a star in the name of a loved one and it has become increasingly popular, especially for people who want a way to remember a deceased loved one. The sites claim to register your choice in the name of the star with one international registry or another making it recognized by astronomical communities around the world. Packages cost anywhere from $15 to over $500 and may include a certificate, a better certificate, star charts, frames and more expensive frames.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919 with a mission “to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation”. This organization alone, is the only organization in the world that can name astronomical objects and no, it doesn’t sell star naming rights.

A visit to the IAU’s website offers a tongue in cheek FAQ section where it answers questions posed by people who are remarkably persistent in their questioning despite the bold declaration on the site that star naming rights are not for sale.

Here’s just a sample:

Q: But if I want to, can I buy the name of a star anyway?
A: Sure, there are people who will be more than happy to take your money…

Q: Can you tell me who and where?
A: Sorry, we are a scientific organization, not a branch of the entertainment industry. We cannot distribute addresses of enterprises selling fictitious goods.

Q: OK, I found a dealer myself; what will I get from them?
A: An expensive piece of paper and a temporary feeling of happiness, like if you take a cup of tea instead of the Doctor’s recommended medicine. But at least you do not risk getting sick by paying for a star name, only losing money.

Though the sentiment is touching, you’ll be wishing on another star for your money back after receiving a very expensive piece of framed paper. As the IAU says, “Like true love and many other of the best things in human life, the beauty of the night sky is not for sale, but is free for all to enjoy.”

Read more:

Buying Star Names | IAU


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