- If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney
Have a Star Named After Me
There are services which will let you name a star in the sky after a loved one. You can commemorate a special day, or the life of an amazing person. But can you really name a star?
The answer is yes.
Names of astronomical objects are agreed upon by the International Astronomical Union. If this name sounds familiar, it’s the same people who voted that Pluto is not a planet.
There are a few stars with traditional names which have been passed down through history. Names like Betelgeuse, Sirius, or Rigel. Others were named in the last few hundred years for highly influential astronomers.
These are the common names, agreed upon by the astronomical community.
Most stars, especially dim ones, are only given coordinates and a designation in a catalog. There are millions and millions of stars out there with a long string of numbers and letters for a name. There’s the Gliese catalog of nearby stars, or the Guide Star Catalog which contains 945 million stars.
The IAU hasn’t taken on any new names for stars, and probably won’t ever. The bottom line is that numbers are much more useful for astronomers searching and studying stars.
But what about the companies that will offer to let you name a star? Each of these companies maintains their own private database containing stars from the catalog and associated star names. They’ll provide you with a nice certificate and instructions for finding it in the sky, but these names are not recognized by the international astronomical community.
You won’t see your name appearing in a scientific research journal. In fact, it’s possible that the star you’ve named with one organization will be given a different name by another group.
So can you really name a star after yourself or a loved one?
Yes, you can, in the same way that you can name an already-named skyscraper after yourself. Everyone else might keep calling it the Empire State Building, but you’ll have a certificate that says otherwise.