Inspired by the August 27th podcast titled, "Need a Unique Birthday Gift? “Buy” a Birthday Star" from the 365 Days of Astronomy, I thought I would share my views on the topic. Patrick McQuillan and his son Ryan did a fabulous job presenting the rather silly side of buying a star in someone's name. I did a little research and found for any where from *9.95 to a whopping $154.95, I could name a star for someone. The "Ultimate Kit" included some very exciting components:
Beautiful 12" X 16" full color parchment certificate personalized with the star name, date and coordinates. The certificate comes beautifully double matted in a gold metallic frame. The outer mat is a cream colored "flannel" and the inner mat is a dark delft blue which matches the colors in the certificate.
A Personalized 12" X 16" sky chart containing the star name, star date, the constellation and the location circled in red where the star is in the sky. The personalized star chart is framed also in this package. The frame measures 20" X 16" and matches the frame in the Deluxe package.
A booklet on astronomy written by a professional astronomer with additional sky charts.
A letter of congratulations/memorial for the recipient.
The package also includes a complimentary personalized wallet card imprinted with the star name and coordinates.
My favorite is the wallet card. Imagine how many times the recipient will whip that out at a party and share it with friends and family. A gift that keeps on giving. Granted, there is "some" value in two items that are framed. At least you get two frames to put something of real value in later. Second, this kit was offered by the one and only "International Star Registry." Please note, there is one and only one organization in the world that has anything to do with the naming of stars. It is the International Astronomical Union which also has a very interesting article on this topic. This is the group that declared Pluto was now considered a dwarf planet and reduced our solar system to eight planets.
So, if you want to name a star for someone, send me the $100 and I'll do the same ridiculous things as the online services and store the registration in my own official registry which is as real and official as those online. However, if you want to do something fun that is a little more real, make up a certificate for a "Birth Star". No, there isn't a registry and no one's name will be attached. What I'm suggesting is do a search on star distances and pick one that is the same number of light years away as the receiver. This means that the light that everyone sees left that star the year the person was born. It's a gift that you can keep on giving each year, as you'll have to pick a different star, but hey, it's free and it's fun, and it's not a load of junk that the star naming sites offer.