Last Updated January 1, 2003

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    International Star Registry
    "Name-A-Star" Scam

    The International Star Registry is a star naming service where for a modest fee, you can name a star for yourself, your sweetheart or even your dog. With your fee, you would receive a parchment certificate with the name and coordinates of "your" star and a detailed chart with your star circled in red and best of would be informed that "Because these star names are copyrighted with their telescopic coordinates in the book Your Place in the Cosmos, future generations may identify your star name in the registry and, using a telescope, locate the actual star in the sky."


    Here are the facts:

    • Astronomers do not recognize these names.
    • The Library of Congress does not recognize these names.
    • In many cases, the coordinates listed on the certificate do not correspond to any actual star in that position (either they are making up star positions or they are simply interpreting the charts incorrectly).
    • Notice that a telescope is required to view "your" star. The ISR has said that the only stars they have left are magnitude 11 or fainter (the faintest object visible to the naked eye is magnitude 8, but that is only if you have absolutely perfect eyesight and you are so far away from the city lights that you are most likely in outer space yourself, even then a good set of binoculars helps. Magnitude 6 is usually the faintest object easily visible to the naked eye).
    • The so-called "International Star Registry" is not authorized to assign names to celestial bodies. This is reserved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). For further proof of this, go find any current star chart and try to find "Bob's Star" or "Susie's Star" listed anywhere on it!

    The IAU was founded and divided into sub-bodies, various committees, teams and task groups, each responsible for approving and rejecting names of cosmic elements according to their class. The individual appointed to oversee all these sub-divisions is Brian G. Marsden, associate director for planetary sciences at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysical and director of the Minor Planets Center.

    Additional resource information regarding the International Star Registry Star Naming Scam:

    DISCOVER Magazine - Feb. 2000

    International Star Registry in Trouble

    Can you pay $35 to get a star named after you? news bulletin

    Christmas Mystery

    National Optical Astronomy Observatories

    Buying a Star FAQ