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Name A Star After - Name a Star After a Friend or Loved One - Fact or Fiction? - What is “Star Naming”?, Fact or Fiction?, The Case For and Against

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Have you heard of sites that claim to let you “name a star” after a friend or loved one? Perhaps you have wondered about the legitimacy of these sites. Maybe you have considered buying one for an astronomy-loving friend. In this guide, we will look at the phenomenon of star-naming online, the companies that do it, and what is involved. We will also delve into the case for and against such companies, so you can make an educated decision about your own opinion on the matter.

What is “Star Naming”?

Star naming is a service provided by several different companies on the internet. They “allow” you to pay a fee in order to choose a name for a certain star in the cosmos. The most prominent company in the industry is the International Star Registry, which has received most of the press attention. After “purchasing” your star, the company will send you a named certificate for your star, as well as astronomical maps and charts of where it is located. Some companies (like the ISR) will also publish your star in a large book of stars.

Many people purchase these star names for a spouse or loved one as a romantic gesture, in memorial, or as just a fun present. The ISR in particular has gotten big enough to warrant widespread press coverage on the topic, which you can still occasionally see popping up today. The big “hot topic” issue is whether or not these star-naming companies are misleading consumers about the officialness of their service.

Fact or Fiction?

In a word, “star-naming” services are fiction. But they can be viewed as fiction with a purpose, which we will go into further below.

The only organization that can officially name stars is the International Astronomical Union, and they do not take requests. In fact, rather than name stars using individual words, they have begun to name them by number instead. Not the most romantic notion in the world.

The International Star Registry has a disclaimer on their site that states this fact. But they go on to say that their consumers are not so much interested in the officialness of the service, but rather the romantic notion of naming a celestial body after a loved one, even if only in fiction. And it is true that you get a unique certificate for your star, and a unique place in the ISR’s database.

The Case For and Against

Those who are coming out against companies like the ISR are primarily concerned with consumer deception – presenting the notion that you can actually pay to name a star, which could fool unwary consumers into believing it is real. Today, there are dozens of different online star-naming services, and some may be more unscrupulous than others. Critics also say that charging upwards of $50 for nothing more than a certificate and astronomical charts is basically a license to print money.

Reputable star-naming companies defend themselves by stating that they have full disclaimers on their websites to ensure that consumers know what they are truly getting. They further state that they perform a service by educating people about astronomy and presenting a unique, fun gift idea for people to use.


As long as you realize that your spouse’s name will not actually appear in any official astronomy charts, then this can still be a fun gift idea. It can be a good gift for hopeless romantics or those with a special interest in astronomy. Be careful, die-hard astronomers might conversely feel insulted if presented with a gift they know to be fake. If you feel that the whole notion of giving a make-believe title to a celestial body would take away from the specialness of such a gift, you are probably better off just heading to the mall to pick out something real.

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