It takes 50 million years to create one star. They are born from clouds of dust and live up to 10 million years. You’ll see some of the stars the first humans did and the ancient Greeks named even now when you look at the night sky. These clusters of gas and dust remind us how infinite the universe is.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Origins of Star Names
- Step 1: Choose a Service
- Step 2: Find Your Star
- Step 3: Name Your Star (or Stars)
- Step 4: Pick a Bundle
- Star Alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions: Naming a Star After Someone
Stars are so special that you may want to name one for your loved one. Whether you wish to name a star as a special gift or memorialize your lost family member or friend, it’s a thoughtful gesture to remember your loved one.
In this guide, we’ll explain where to find your star and how to name one.
Tip: If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.
Origins of Star Names
Before taking a look at the steps, you need to take to buy a star, let’s explore if it’s even possible. The answer is complicated. The International Astronomical Union is the only organization with authority to name stars. Since 1919, they have worked with astronomers and researchers around the world to identify them in the sky.
The Greeks named stars over 1900 years ago. Ptolemy was an ancient philosopher and scientist. He discovered over 1,000 stars and placed them in 48 constellations. Later, “Almagest,” his book, was translated by Arabic astronomers. These Arabic star names are still used today.
Today, the IAU names stars based on their guidelines and give each star a name and number.
Guidelines range from shorter names to names understood around the world. Since there are too many minor stars in the sky, most stars are given a numeric description based on their position in the sky. Since stars are important for cultures around the world, the IAU names for major stars must be understood by everyone.
As you can see, naming stars isn’t simple. An ordinary person can’t receive a scientific star name from the IAU but other organizations will name a star for your loved one.
Step 1: Choose a Service
While the IAU won’t name a star for you, you can purchase a star from a commercial service. Keep in mind, scientific bodies and professionals won’t recognize your star. The certificate you receive isn’t an official document; it’s a symbol of love for the deceased. Whatever service you choose records your star in its own registry only.
The International Star Registry is an established service that first began naming stars in 1979. Once you purchase your star names and location, the ISR keeps it in its book, “Your Place in the Cosmos.” Not only is the book in the Library of Congress Catalog, it’s also stored in a vault in Switzerland.
Services like Star Registry offer a unique way to map your star. Using Google’s star map, the Star Registry makes it easy for your family members and friends to find your named star. You can type in your star names or coordinates to find a real photo of your star.
The ISR began naming stars commercially in the 1970s and since then, other star services began offering star names. There are even no-frill services where you can name a star for free (without printed certificates or maps). Consider the products each servicer provides and the cost before you choose.
Step 2: Find Your Star
Once you choose your servicer, you will need to choose your star and constellation. You can choose s star in memory of a loved one or multiple stars. The ISR allows you to group up to seven stars together. Other companies only allow two.
Some services claim that you can choose a “supernova,'' or the brightest stars. According to NASA, only two to three supernovas occur per century. In this case, it’s better to choose a less expensive star instead of a supernova.
There are 88 constellations in the sky. The constellations you may be familiar with are the 12 zodiac constellations. You can also choose one of these to match your loved one’s birthday. Other constellations stand for animals, people, and things.
Choose your constellation based on your loved one’s lifestyle and the things he or she loved to make it extra special.
Step 3: Name Your Star (or Stars)
Next, you’ll have to choose a name for your star. A popular choice is naming your star after the loved one or loved ones you want to honor. There are other creative ways you can name a star. Here are some ideas:
- Name a star after your loved one’s favorite travel destination.
- Choose a Greek or Latin root phrase to make an original name for your star.
- Name your star after your loved one’s favorite animal or flower.
- Don’t stop at one name. You can name one star with two combined names for multiple people.
Step 4: Pick a Bundle
Next, choose a bundle. Let’s take a look at what’s included.
The International Star Registry packages range from $54 to $400. The basic kit is unframed. It includes a certificate of your star’s name, sky chart, booklet, and memorial letter. You can also add handwritten calligraphy to your loved one’s star certificate for a personal touch.
Base prices increase if you choose to add a frame — there are metallic, black, and wood frame options available. Once you’ve chosen your star name, you can also add jewelry or ornaments to your ISR purchase.
Another company, the Star Register, offers a $34 bundle. It includes a certificate and map of the sky in addition to other educational materials about space. Still, other services, like Cosmonova, offer $24 packages to name a single star.
Decide how much personalization you’d like and the size of your registry. Reputable services will keep your star on record indefinitely.
There are other ways you can memorialize your loved one. A picture of the night sky is a thoughtful sympathy gift for a memorial service or funeral. Companies like The Night Sky print a star map of a special day like a birthday, wedding, or birth of a child. You can also add a caption to your star map for a special touch.
Donating to an organization is another way to remember your loved one. Organizations like the American Cancer Society allow you to donate in memory of a loved one. The American Cancer Society will send a special card to you or other family members as a keepsake.
Instead of naming a star for your loved one, you can adopt one instead. The nonprofit organization, Adopt a Star, allows you to select a star and dedicate it in your loved one’s name. You’ll support professional astronomers as they raise funds for space research. It’s a memorial gift that continues on forever.
Lastly, If your loved one was fascinated by space, a space burial is a unique way to honor that person. Your family member’s ashes are sealed in a special container and launched into outer space. You can track your loved one’s ashes and stay close to him or her forever.
Frequently Asked Questions: Naming a Star After Someone
There are multiple services that allow you to name a star after someone. Since there are similarities, here are the answers to common questions.
How much does it cost to name a star after someone? Can you do it for free?
You don’t have to pay to name a star. Keep in mind, a framed certificate and other novelty gifts like posters aren’t included.
Staracle is one service that names stars for free. The downside is that you’ll have to print your own certificate. At a cost, you can add on a star map or your loved one’s photo. Your star is put into Staracle’s database and isn’t recognized officially by the IAU.
Is there an “official” or best way to name a star after someone?
The only official body that can name a star is the International Astronomical Union. Its authority comes from astronomers and governments around the world. Any services mentioned in our guide are purely for commercial purposes.
When you buy a star, astronomers or scientists won’t know or recognize it, but it’s still a sentimental gift that shows your love.
What do you need in order to name a star after someone?
You don’t need anything except for creativity and love to name a star! Instead of paying for a star, you can even design and print your own certificate. Next, find your star on a star map and print that, too.
Make Your Love Last
Your love for family and friends will live on for a lifetime. Starting your own end-of-life planning will help you be remembered the way you’d like. Do you want a star named after you or a space burial? Let your friends and family know. Your memory can live on forever as long as you’re prepared.
- “Buying Stars and Star Names.” International Astronomical Union. www.iau.org/public/themes/buying_star_names/
- “How are supernovas formed and are there any getting ready to form now?” NASA. www.spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/supernovas.html
- “International Star Registry in Trouble.” Arecibo Observatory. www.naic.edu/~gibson/starnames/isr_news.html
- “Ptolemy.” The Messier Catalog. www.messier.seds.org/xtra/Bios/ptolemy.html