I received a star as a gift or purchased it for a friend/loved one. Can you confirm that it exists? Can you take a picture of it for me?


Many of the “Own-your-own or Name-your-own” star companies seem to report slightly inaccurate coordinates for their stars, though it shouldn't be a problem to obtain accurate coordinates. The stars “sold” are more-or-less randomly chosen from a list of catalogued stars, and the names/ownerships are not recognized officially or legally by any professional astronomical organization or government agency. (So don't try and collect royalties if the Hubble Telescope images “your” star!) Still, a lot of people enjoy the gift, and there is absolutely no harm in it.

You can find pictures of these stars at the online Digitized Sky Survey – pictures of the entire sky that have been scanned in to digital format. Go to the Digitized Sky Survey website and enter the coordinates. You may have to switch the “J2000” button to “B1950,” depending on which coordinates your star registry gave you. Be sure to change “File Format” from “FITS” to “GIF.” Chances are, your star is the brightest one in the field.

Lick Observatory does not take pictures of “your” star for people (unless you have several million dollars you'd like to donate), and it's appearance certainly has not changed since the sky survey images were taken. Re-taking the image would be a waste of the observatory's very limited resources.

Before “buying” a star, please read the International Astronomical Union's position on the naming of stars. Remember, you are buying a novelty gift. What you get (often a star chart with “your” star circled, a certificate with the star's name and coordinates, a spot in the company's records as owning a particular star, and perhaps a booklet with quasi-factual information about stars in general) is all that you are getting for your money.

 
i_received_a_star_as_a_gift_or_purchased_it_for_a_friend_loved_one._can_you_confirm_that_it_exists_can_you_take_a_picture_of_it_for_me.txt · Last modified: 2009/02/02 13:22 by czars · [Old revisions]