Review of Spacetech's Orrery

Facts about naming stars

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From the International Astronomical Union

The IAU receives an increasing number of requests from individuals who want to buy stars or star names, or name stars after other persons. The IAU is aware that some commercial enterprises purport to offer such services for a fee. The fact is that such "names" have no formal or official validity whatever; a few bright stars have ancient, traditional Arabic names, but otherwise stars have just numbers and positions on the sky.

To see that the idea of "buying" stars or star names is inherently absurd, consider that there are perhaps 100,000,000,000 stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone where other beings might in principle compete on the market. Stars cannot be fenced in, taken home, or locked up in a vault. Like so many of the best things in life, the beauty of the night sky is not for sale, but is there for all to enjoy.

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However, there is now a way to explore the sky in your own home: Large sky surveys have become available in digital form on CD ROM, e.g. from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific ( This allows everyone to browse among many hundreds of millions of stars on your home computer. These maps are the main data base of at least some of the commercial star naming enterprises; why pay a mark-up for buying the stars one at a time?

For the sake of completeness, it is noted that these rules apply also to naming star clusters or galaxies as well as to individual stars.

Books from AmazonApart from the above reference to the original digital sky atlas, the IAU maintains no file of addresses of enterprises that pretend to "sell" star names. They are thus unable to help persons who wish to buy name certificates even in the knowledge that they have no validity; such services are outside the scope of the activities of a scientific organisation.


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