We know what you're thinking: we're still hung up on the supermoon, which, depending on how you saw it, was either a beautiful or disappointing experience. But it did make us think that naming a star after your budding astronomer would be an amazing gift, right?
As it turned out, a lot of companies offer the service for a fee (which can be as cheap as P500), complete with a certificate and map to find your star in the night sky. But is it really that easy, not to mention affordable, to name a star?
Names of stars and other astronomical bodies are agreed upon by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The names they give the stars are official. These names are not sold but assigned according to a set of rules and guidelines. In short, no matter which company you "register" those stars in your child's name isn't recognized by scientific authorities. IAU don't assign names to a star, only numbers and letters. “A few bright stars have ancient, traditional Arabic names, but otherwise stars have just catalogue numbers and positions on the sky,” says the IAU.
You might have hear of old star names like Sirius, Regulus and Procyon. Very few are also named after important historical people like the Barnard’s Star named after astronomer E. E. Barnard. Stars named today, however, have names like HD 197433 or GC 28804. You might remember that in the novel The Little Prince, his asteroid home was named B612.
Don’t get your spirits down though! There are still loads of ways you can make your little astronomer happy, like getting her wonderful astronomy books or children’s books on space. NPR recommendsYour Alien by Tammi Sauer and Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood. You can also take her to a planetarium, try the National Museum Planetarium in Manila and the PAGASA Planetarium.
If your child’s heart is set on a star though, The Mind Museum can get you the next best thing. Their virtual exhibit of the night sky in the Universe Gallery is filled with stars, comets and even galaxies that need naming. Your child can name one and see the name she’s chosen illuminated right next to the star. This way, other people can appreciate it too.
You also get an e-certificate of donation which you can choose to print out. All donations completely go into supporting free museum visits for disadvantaged children.
Find out about The Mind Museum’s other virtual exhibits you can name and donate to here.