March 3rd, 2005


"The star's name was.....uh, we didn't care what its name was..." we just called it Fred. (Apologies to Rodney Carrington.)

An outfit called the "International Star Registry" offers, for a fee, to "name a star" for you. You don't get to pick the star, as far as I know. (If you did, I'm sure that people would be fighting over Sirius or Polaris.) Basically what happens is that they pick a star, send you a fancy certificate with the right ascension and declination of the star and such, and add an entry to a book that they publish (though I don't know whether they actually sell it).

The aforementioned fooforaw means...bupkis. Zilch. Nada. You might as well go out at night, point at a star, and say "I dub thee Irving." Nobody uses the names submitted to the International Star Registry. According to one astronomer's discussion of the ISR, chances are you won't be able to find the star from the data on the fancy certificate, given the precision to which they give the location. (I've read that the stars they assign are typically very faint.)

Here's what the International Astronomical Union, the organization that does assign identifiers (aside from bright, well-known stars that were named centuries ago, they're actually numbered, or are called "<name of constellation> <number>" if they're the <number>th brightest star in <constellation>), has to say about organizations like the "International Star Registry."
  • Current Music
    "Fred," Rodney Carrington