Since the dawn of humanity, mankind has gazed up at the starry night sky with wonder. From ancient people telling stories through constellations to modern times, stars carry a lot of significance for most people. This has led to many people wishing to learn how to name a star after a loved one.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Is It Possible to Buy or Name a Star?
- Average Cost of Buying and Naming a Star
- How Much Buying a Star and Naming Costs With Each Service
- Alternative Ways to Honor a Loved One
While it’s easy to start a search online for star naming and to get hundreds of results. With so many providers of “stars,” where do you begin? More importantly, how much does it actually cost to buy a star in the sky?
As far as living memorial ideas, buying and naming a star creates a powerful, lasting tribute. In this guide, we’ll share how much it actually costs to buy a star and name it. In addition, we’ll share the legality around buying and naming stars and what you get with each purchase.
Is It Possible to Buy or Name a Star?
First and foremost, is it possible to buy a star? There’s a lot of confusion around this process, and much of it comes down to the way star registry services talk about their product. In reality, it’s not possible to sell something you don’t own. Because nobody owns the stars or anything in space, it’s not possible to buy or sell a star legally.
The only entity that names stars is the International Astronomical Union. This catalog has been developed by astronomers throughout history, and they don’t accept new names. Most stars are named simply by coordinates based on a set of rules created in the Renaissance. No astronomers allow the purchase of star names, and they don’t recognize names set by groups like the International Star Registry.
What are you purchasing when you buy a star?
With that in mind, what are you actually purchasing when you buy a star or name a star online? Since the IAU is the only scientific body authorized to name any astronomical bodies, these are really just a novelty gift.
When you purchase a “star” or a star name through a provider like the International Star Registry, you aren’t purchasing the rights to a specific star or star name. Rather, you’re purchasing the piece of parchment with the star’s name printed on it, paired with a unique star map. This is still an impressive novelty gift, but it’s important to know what you’re paying for.
Average Cost of Buying and Naming a Star
Next, what’s the average cost of buying and naming a star? Each star registry service has its own pricing and fees, so it’s important to explore your options. They all primarily offer the same services, but you might prefer one registry over another. In general, you can buy a star name for anywhere from $20 to $150.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common providers of star names and their fees:
- International Star Registry: Star naming packages start at $50.
- Name a Star Live: Instantly downloadable star maps begin at $19.95 and go upwards of $100 for messages sent into space.
- Star Name Registry: The Star Name Registry offers basic naming services starting at $19.95. For a gift set, the cost is $59.95.
- Name a Star: Gift packages with Name a Star begin at $49.95 and go upwards from there depending on add-ons.
All of these commercial services offer similar products, and they’re ultimately all novelty gifts. While they still are a creative way to honor a loved one who died or celebrate an occasion, make sure you understand exactly what you’re purchasing.
How Much Buying a Star and Naming Costs With Each Service
Before you decide to buy or name a star, learn how much each different service costs. There are many different add ons, and they can create a unique gift idea depending on your goals. The more you include, however, the greater the cost.
Star naming ($20–$50)
If the IAU is the only scientific body that names stars, what exactly are you getting when you pay for star naming services through a commercial company? This depends on the provider, but the International Star Registry sets the standard for this practice.
When you pay for a star name through the International Star Registry, the name and coordinates are permanently recorded in a published, copyrighted listing of named stars. Across the years, there have been 10 volumes of Your Place in the Cosmos published by the International Star Registry. Essentially, you’re paying for a listing within this book.
This basic service runs anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on the provider. Again, these names are not recognized by astronomers or scientists.
With your star name purchase, you receive a certificate from the commercial company. This is what makes the most memorable gift. Your certificate includes the star name, telescopic coordinates, and a special message from the gift giver.
The certificate can make a wonderful gift. Whether you’re honoring a birthday, anniversary, birth of a child, or memorializing a loved one, this is something worth holding onto.
Framed certificate ($60+)
Most commercial companies allow you to purchase a frame for your certificate. This makes it easier to display your star name and coordinates. Again, this is a great gift idea for someone interested in astronomy or who wants a place within the night sky.
Star map ($20+)
A star map, also known as a star chart, is a map of the night sky. These are used by astronomers to find constellations and specific astronomical objects more easily.
Because most of the stars named with these commercial services are not easily visible (especially to the naked eye), a star map is a helpful way for loved ones to find their star. While you’ll still likely need a telescope to see a star yourself, the star map gives it a clear space within the night sky.
Space photo ($50+)
A photo of space is known as astrophotography or astronomical imaging. These are more costly when you purchase a star or star name, but they can be worth it. These images come from super strong telescopes that see far beyond the human eye.
Because most of the stars named by these commercial companies are hard to spot, this astronomical image is a powerful gift for spotting one’s named place in the universe. This can also be framed to create a special gift.
Alternative Ways to Honor a Loved One
Now that you know the different elements of buying and naming a star, let’s discuss alternatives. When people realize you can’t actually scientifically name a star or purchase one, they might wish to choose a different gift idea. Luckily, there are many alternatives that carry the same significance.
Adopt a Star
Adopt a Star is a nonprofit that makes it possible to donate to support research towards Earth-like planets and star characterization. The stars you can “adopt” have all been observed for up to 4 years by the Kepler space telescope. When you make your donation, you receive a certificate with the name of our star and its location.
The Planetary Society
Joining the Planetary Society as a member is also a great way to connect with the universe. Co-founded by astronomer Carl Sagan, the Planetary Society’s mission is to increase discoveries in the solar system and beyond, search for life outside of Earth, and continue space research.
You can purchase a membership for yourself or as a gift or simply make a donation in someone’s honor. As a member, you get a personalized membership card, a subscription to The Planetary Report magazine, access to special events, and your name is sent to space on select missions.
The Mars Society
Another great way to do good while honoring a loved one is by donating to the Mars Society. This nonprofit supports mars exploration, research, and education. The Mars Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. They’re dedicated to the human exploration of Mars. Established in 1998, this group does amazing work.
The Night Sky
For a unique gift idea, the Night Sky is the perfect way to capture a moment in time. Give the gift of the stars with one of these customized star maps.
Printed on museum-grade art matte paper using archival inks, these maps are a stunning work of art. Honor someone’s birthdate, anniversary, or death date with one of these maps.
To the Stars: Unique Gift Ideas
In conclusion, as humans, we’re connected to the stars. The author Neil Gaiman once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” There’s no denying that gifting a glimpse of the universe in honor of someone we love is a special, meaningful gift.
However, it’s important to understand that you can’t physically purchase a star or even a star name. This is merely a novelty gift, but a meaningful one nonetheless. Whether you choose to donate to an astronomical cause or purchase a star naming certificate, keep your eyes on the night sky.
1. “Naming Stars.” International Astronomical Union. IAU.org.