From the very top… it is quite disingenuous and unlawful to rename, gain profit or sell star names, unless the International Astronomical Union (I.A.U.) officially approves it. To quote their official stance;
“As an international scientific organization, the IAU dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of “selling” fictitious star names or “real estate” on other planets or moons in the Solar System. Accordingly, the IAU maintains no list of the (several competing) enterprises in this business in individual countries of the world. Readers wanting to contact such enterprises despite the explanations given should search commercial directories in their country of origin.”
Creation of this general rule was made under worldwide international agreement.* Those who blatantly dabble in this untoward practice can only be described as new-age charlatans.
These purchased designated “sold” stars are often named after the individual who bought it – and the brighter the star, the higher the price. These rotten capitalistic tricksters just play on the vanity of human emotions, mostly regarding some kind of immortality. Presumably, the targeted victim believes, either their own name or designated loved one will be forever eternally emblazed in the sky well after they are dead and buried!
I feel quite passionate about this disreputable subject. Over the years, I have had approaches several dozen times asking to find stars that have been bought by such gullible individuals. Funny. Some of this advertising has also started to targeted even new relationships or lovers as it, a one site says; “:…lets you express your feelings in romantic, meaningful way by naming a star for a loved one.” Of course, the most popular stars of all are within the zodiac constellations, namely because of the link with astrological star-signs or towards stars that are (or thought to be) double or binary systems; thus forever attaching the couple for all eternity in their embrace.†! Phooey, I say!!!
Sometimes the circumstances of the star name purchase can be very sad and even heart wrenching. One recent example is of the sad death of a little boy who was instantly killed in an avoidable and senseless traffic accident. Another died from leukaemia. Both families, in their real heartfelt personal grief, respectfully bought some star from one of these companies, who had persuaded them it was a good way to remember his passing.
What do you say other than just shake your head in disbelief?
You would like to speak out, or feel it would seem far too insensitive even though you know it was wrong and deceptively made by these charlatan the first place?
For me, it is bizarre how people generally view their own little world. Those with religious or spiritual beliefs, for example, often think that the sky beyond the Earth is ‘Heaven’, when in reality the presumed world after death is actually just some metaphysical idea based on someone’s adopted religious dogma. The stars, in this way of thinking are much like us, being far and distant just like this imagined metaphysical world. God, or the gods, are all manifest in their personal distant realities – doing their heavenly errands we do not understand or even comprehend. Yet regardless of this, most still want to cling desperately to the ye old notions that the stars are also eternal, when in fact they are just as forever moral like the rest of us. No doubt these same stars will be brightly be shining long after the human race has long departed from this insane Earth – either by our own inherent self-destructiveness or by the Sun slowly making the surface of the Earth uninhabitable for any life to live. Was not the idea of the eternal stars an Aristotelian idea some 2,400 years ago; when the world and Universe was this grand unknowable mystery? Where and how to produce starlight was not even remotely understood or able to be considered! Ye we are still naive to this obvious supertitious claptrap!
More often than not, the selected sold stars are quite faint and require sizeable telescopes to see them. Once purchased, the customer then wants to personally look at the star in the sky – often disappointing them in the difficulty to find and how faint the star actually is. The star which they have sort for comfort so much reflects the insignificance of themselves or of their departed loved one(s) which no doubt exacerbates and magnifies their own feelings of remorse or grief. Such feelings are made far more morbid in seeing these decent people exploited in this lousy way – especially in such tragic circumstances. Yet I am willing to help in silence of my own hostile views, if only to perhaps give those left behind deal with their grief and real sadness. At least it is a human thing to do.
In recent times, however, the growing trend is that even the supposed scientific astronomical institutions have instead joined in with these now common practices, just for some cash on the side!. I.e. Following the saying; “If you can’t beat ’em join them!”
Simply all it does is just legitimise this invalid improper practice instead of just stamping it out all together. Yet, for those who are very passionately against this bunkum finds their efforts undermined. Even now the astronomical observatories and museums are now getting in on the act. No only is it inane and simply stupid, in has no real meaning for an individual – except condone such exploitation. In my opinion, these professional bodies are far worst than the dodgy ones because they should actually know better!
Of course, the explanation for the costs incurred is to produce the documentation and the time spent doing it. Often you get some ‘official certificate’ with your own star as named. This may cost only several cents, which marked up so much; you can end up shell-out anything between $10 up to $200; so that the stinking proprietor makes an exorbitantly outrageous huge profit. Often it names some star catalogue number(s), details such as the brightness or even spectral type (colour) and some small map of the general region. Most of these are commonly available in astronomical computer software. What people should realise is that they could easily do this themselves without any expense. Simply pick some star and what you do with it is then up to you!
* In the real world, the I.A.U. controls of the nomenclature in astronomy, but it does not mean adding or changing star names cannot be done. Fortunately, the I.A.U. is seemingly highly democratic, non-political and non-profit body. If there are various responses to some particularly favoured name in the general population, there can be change. Here submitted suggestions can be officially ratified and can be changed or modified. An official position of the I.A.U. appears in the statement on the following link; “Buying Star Names”
† Based on the current rates of divorce in the Western world, binary stars are not that easy to split up, meaning one you do this, forever you are bound together. This sounding a little bit like the rules of the Catholic Church and eternal divorce, meaning once done you cannot remarry in the Church again. This is of course, unless you can prove the conditions of religious annulments under the Tribunal of the Catholic Church. Else, the vow continues forever more — on both earth and into the afterlife in Heaven.
• The following reference in pdf format is the current official position of the professional Australian Astronomical Society ASA Information Sheet No.10 : ‘Purchasing’ Star Names
Last Update : 27th September 2011
Southern Astronomical Delights © (2011)