Can you actually buy Star names?

John Christopher Amodo
PUBLISHED October 11, 2017 01:27 pm
Photo from Warner Bros. Pictures

(Inside Manila) When a guy literally translated the classic “I will give you the stars” line into action for his girlfriend, a parade of “awws” and “wows” came right in, sparking an online frenzy among netizens.


Hannah Grazhel Chiong shared on Twitter photos of his boyfriend Ronnie Sta. Teresa, who bought a star and named it after her. The star named “Grazhel” lies among the background stars of the constellation Libra, the balance.



Some were touched and some jealous. But the real question is, “Can you buy stars and have it named after you? Short answer: no. And apparently, the couple was well aware of that fact.


"I am fully aware that I literally do not own the star but the thought that he wants to name a star after me while showing me the certificate that is in the international star directory (not the IAU) made me feel special. It doesn't matter if the star is real or not, it's the time and energy he used to do all this just to get this for me.”


“By the end of the day it's not the material things that matter, it's what you choose to do, it's the energy that drives you to go beyond, it's the effort, and he did a pretty good job at doing it. So whether the star is real or not, it doesn't matter, but I believe his love is real enough," Chiong said in a Twitter media post.


The gesture is a metaphor not so much edged with unfamiliar fact. Let’s take the long answer from the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and surface features on them.


Despite numerous commercial enterprises’ purport to offer such services for a fee, acquired star, nebulae, or galaxy names have informal and unofficial validity.


The International Star Directory is just one of the many organizations around the world that offer the novelty of unofficially naming stars in exchange of money—a name no countries, authorities, or scientists will recognize.


“Terrestrial makers of international law have so far had more urgent concerns than creating rules for ‘buying’ totally inaccessible corners of infinite space, so there is no written text that can be twisted and interpreted - just a plain and practical fact,” says IAU.


If you’ve seen the movie adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s “A Walk to Remember,” you’d think of the scene Landon Carter (Shane West) named a star after Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) from the International Star Registry as a profession of his love—a romantic gesture anyone will surely admire.


Anyone—romantics, fans of that movie, astrogeeks—would want someone to do it for them. It’s fiction, true, but as they say, “it’s the thought that counts.”


If charlatanry hardly appeals to your preferences, there are always other Stars-related activities you can enjoy such as visiting your nearest planetarium, attending local astronomy club or society, or even buy your own telescope.

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