Ultimate celestial experienceJan 1, 2003
What celestial navigator has not dreamt of having an individual star of his very own? Not a star in cement in front of a Chinese restaurant, but a real, gaseous, flaming mass of fusion energy somewhere in the firmament, a point of light that one could squint at and proudly say to all those who might care, "There, you see that one, no, to the left of the red oneyeah, that's my star."
The International Star Registry, a for-profit business based in Ingleside, Ill., offers at least the illusion of having your own star. For $45 clients get to pick one of the more than 18 million charted stars in our beloved celestial sphere and name it for themselves or loved ones. Included in the fee is a 12-by-16-inch, full-color certificate indicating the chosen name of your star and the celestial coordinates of said point of light. The coordinates are given as declination and right ascension, but the competent navigator can convert RA to sidereal hour angle. To further assist those one or two who are still unable to find the Big Dipper, there is also a sky chart with your star circled for easy identification.
The International Star Registry was founded in 1979 by John Mosele, a former schoonerman who once loaded his 12 children aboard the Harry V. Adams, a sistership to the famed Canadian schooner Bluenose, and took them to sea for a year.
If you choose to avail yourself of this cosmic gift you will join terrestrial luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Brooke Shields, and Elizabeth Taylor.
It cannot be guaranteed that you will be able to use your star as part of a celestial navigation fix, but it will warm the heart of even the most hardened navigator to know that out there, somewhere, is a chance at immortality. For more information call the International Star Registry at (800) 282-3333.
Star names designated by the International Star Registry, despite their charm, are not recognized by the august International Astronomical Union of Paris. "Most stars that we know, especially for navigation, were named thousands of years ago by Greek and Roman astronomers," said Geoff Chester, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. According to Chester, a name assigned by the International Star Registry, "carries absolutely no weight in the astronomical community."
While official star names are largely locked up, asteroids, which continue to be discovered, are still available for naming. "Asteroids are given names at the whim of their discoverer. There are even some named for songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton," Chester added. Comets are generally named for their discoverers; and the craters on planets and moons can be named by their discoverers after someone else as long as that person is dead.contributed by David Berson