The brightest stars which are easily visible by the naked eye were named by many ancient cultures including Greek, Latin, Arabic, Australian Aboriginal, Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian and South African. As a result many stars have multiple names.
Technically, anyone is free to give any name to any star, but if a name for an individual star is going to be used consistently by professional astronomers, it has to be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU is the only internationally recognized authority for assigning names to celestial objects and surface features on them. So far the IAU has only approved a few hundred historical star names.
There have been many historical star catalogues. The oldest known star catalog was produced by ancient Babylonians on clay tablets about 1500 BC. The Shang dynasty in China wrote star names on oracle bones about the same time. More modern catalogs include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) catalog, Guide Star Catalog (GSC), and the Name a Star Record Book.
In 1978, the founders of Name a Star developed a way for anyone to show their love and respect to others by assigning the names of loved ones to stars – stars that are otherwise listed as numbers in astronomy catalogs. Name a Star – The Original Star Naming Service – Since 1978® became the world’s first star naming company.
Naming a star is easy. Just type a name and the date that you want to commemorate. It can be a special occasion, like a birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day. There are multiple packages to choose from to fit any taste or budget. Every package includes a Certificate of Registration, which you can customize to create a unique gift. You can choose your favorite constellation and even add a message to show your love or a company logo to honor a colleague.
A memorial star is the perfect way to recognize a person or beloved pet that has passed away. Most constellations are only visible for part of the year. For example, Orion is easily viewed in the winter, but no where to be seen in the summer. Name a Star reserves the constellations that are visible year round, for memorial stars, so you can always go outside and feel close to that special person or furry companion again.
You can’t buy a star, but you can name a star as a novelty gift for a friend or loved one.