You’ve probably seen ads for star registration and naming services before. They typically involve buying a package that includes the “registration” of a chosen name with a company, along with some sort of certificate or other documentation. But what does it actually mean to “name” a star? Is it official? Can anyone do it?
As it turns out, there’s no one answer to these questions. In this article, we’ll explore the history and meaning of star naming, how the process works, and whether or not it’s something you should consider doing.
What’s in a Name?
The practice of giving names to stars has been around for thousands of years. Early cultures often used stars as navigation aides, and they needed some way to refer to them. So, they gave them names that were meaningful to them.
For example, the three stars in Orion’s Belt are named Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. These Arabic names mean “the girdle,” “the belt,” and “the buckle.” Similarly, the Chinese name for the North Star is Beidou, which means “Northern Dipper.”
Over time, different cultures developed their own star naming systems. And as telescope technology improved, more and more stars were discovered. By the early 1900s, there were so many stars that it became necessary to develop a more systematic way of naming them.
In 1930, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) stepped in and created a set of rules for naming stars. Under these rules, stars are given official names by the IAU. These names are generally used only by astronomers and are not widely known outside of scientific circles.
How to Name a Star
The process for naming a star under the IAU system is actually quite simple. First, you need to find a star that doesn’t already have an official name. This can be done with the help of online star catalogs like the Washington Double Star Catalog or SIMBAD.
Once you’ve found an unclaimed star, the next step is to submit a proposal to the IAU with your chosen name and its meaning. If your proposal is approved, the IAU will assign an official designation to the star. This designation will typically include the star’s coordinates and a code that indicates what type of object it is (e.g., “G” for giant star, “D” for white dwarf).
So, what does all of this mean for the practice of naming stars that’s advertised by companies? Well, technically speaking, these companies are not able to give stars official names. However, they can help you choose a name and register it with their own private databases.
These companies usually have their own rules and procedures for naming stars. And while there’s no guarantee that your chosen name will be used by anyone else, it can be a fun way to commemorate a special event or honor a loved one.
Whether or not you decide to name a star is up to you. But if you do, it’s important to understand the process and what it means. With a little research, you can choose a name that has personal significance and will be remembered for years to come.