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PAYING TO NAME STARS AND 'BUYING' LAND ON PLANETS AND MOONS

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 May 2010 14:32
Published on Tuesday, 22 February 2005 00:00

 

STAR NAMES
The Royal Astronomical Society receives many enquiries about paying to have a star named.

It is not possible to have a star named officially. The authority recognized by professional and amateur astronomers for the naming of astronomical bodies (and features on them) is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), based in Paris. In the case of stars, the IAU does not allocate individual names. It is simply not a practical method for keeping track of hundreds of millions of stars. Catalogue numbers are used instead.

A few hundred of the brightest stars in the sky have traditional names, mostly handed down from centuries ago. The most well-known of these names, such as Sirius and Polaris, are often used by astronomers, but strictly speaking they are unofficial.

Some commercial organisations offer to name, or 'redesignate' stars for payment. The certificates they issue, and the names they allocate, have no official status of any kind. They are not used or recognised by astronomers. The fact that the names are recorded in books and deposited in copyright libraries has no significance.

'BUYING' LAND ON MOONS AND PLANETS
There are also commercial enterprises offering to 'sell' plots of land on the Moon, and on other moons and planets in the solar system. These claims, like the star names, are not recognized by any authority.

THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY'S POLICY
The Royal Astronomical Society supports the IAU's position on the practice of 'selling' star names or land on moons and planets and dissociates itself from the activities of the commercial organisations engaged in these businesses. For that reason, the society does not provide any information about them.

The IAU has a detailed statement and answers to frequently asked questions on this subject at http://www.iau.org/IAU/FAQ/starnames.html

Dr Jacqueline Mitton, RAS Press Officer.