Can you buy a star? How much to buy a star? You can’t officially buy or name a star. The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the only entity which has the right to name celestial beings, explains that few stars gain actual names because of the vast numbers of stars. The majority of stars are identified by a number and its position in the sky and while the IAU does occasionally name a celestial being or feature, these names are not purchased or for sale. The IAU likes to remind people
“The beauty of the night sky is not for sale, but is free for all to enjoy.”
Unofficially, you can buy or name a star through the internet with star naming services. These companies might also be called star buying businesses — but we’ll stick with naming as the terminology as its closer to accurate. These companies offer you the option to name a star located within their databases. Sometimes you’ll get a certificate showing the star and its name, and other star related paraphernalia.
What Are Star Naming Services Like?
Since the late 1970’s, star naming companies have popped up around the world. They offer star databases for you to pick out a star and name it. The companies also assure you that no one else will be able to name your star, within their database. From their offerings, you can purchase packages including “official” star name certificates, star coordinates and other details about the star you named. Trinkets such as jewelry, toys, and picture frames are also offered or featured in some packages.
Fundraising programs for charities, science museums, observatories, and planetariums are also other ways you might buy or name a star. The fundraisers offer you the chance to “buy or name” a star as a fun way to raise money for a cause, funding a new project, operating costs or just helping the community. The fundraising events are often upfront with the fact that you cannot actually name or buy a star, but are putting your money to good use in helping out their cause. And you get the added benefit of being able to claim the money spent as a tax deduction.
Are Star Naming Companies Legal?
Star buying and naming companies are legal because of their disclaimers, often found in the FAQ section of their websites, reminding potential customers that they are not affiliated with the IAU. The companies go on to say star buying or naming is just for fun and you do not truly own the star. While these companies are legal, they are misleading and effectively a money making scheme.
Is Naming a Star an Investment?
No, buying or naming a star is not a good investment for your money. But it can be a cute, cheap gift, if it makes someone happy, and happiness is always a good investment. Have a young niece or nephew who’s super into astronomy? A star could make a fun birthday present.
A better investment for your money and the happiness of loved ones may be making a donation to a charity in the person’s name or adding the money to a college fund.
Can You Rename, Resell, or Get a Refund?
No star naming company allows you to resell your star to someone else. They earn money by selling you the “rights” to a star within their database. As a result, to continue to make money they need to keep selling more stars, and letting you resell their star wouldn’t be profitable.
The majority of the companies don’t offer refunds of any kind, including towards faulty products. We highly recommend that you read the terms and conditions carefully before purchasing or naming a star.
What Do You Get When You Name a Star?
Most star naming companies offer a basic package, which allows you to select a star, name it, and print an “official” personalized star certificate at home. With additional upgrades, companies will send you professionally printed certificates, frames, star charts, and other random items, depending on the company offerings. All packages include the coordinates for the star you chose and how to find it in the night sky.
List of Star Naming Companies
The following is a list of the most popular star buying services:
1. Name a Star
- About: One of the earliest star naming companies, Name a Star opened in 1978. Site is available in eight languages.
- How much to buy a star from Name a Star?
- Instant print at home certificates cost $19.95.
- Standard packages range from $49.95 to $79.95. They include professional full color printed certificates, star charts, and descriptions of your star’s location.
- Deluxe packages range from $69.95 to $99.95. They include framed certificates of registration, several star charts focused around your star, and descriptions of the constellation your star is grouped in.
- Both the standard and deluxe packages have kid packages, which include toys.
- Shipping and handling is not included with package pricing.
2. Online Star Register (OSR)
- About: OSR is one of the few star naming companies with its own Free Star Finder App (iOS only).
- How much to buy a star from Online Star Register?
- Download at home certificates cost $33.
- The OSR gift pack is $79, but is often sold at reduced prices. This package includes specially personalized certificates, glow in the dark stickers, star charts, gift wrapping, and free worldwide shipping, plus registration of your star in the Online Star Register.
- Free worldwide shipping.
- Personal customizable star page.
- About: Staracle is a free star naming company.
- How much to buy a star from Staracle? Free! Offers the basic name-a-star package for free and includes a print-at-home personalized certificate for free. Upgrades to premium features do cost money.
4. International Star Registry
- About: Started in 1979, the International Star Registry is available worldwide.
- How much to buy a star from International Star Registry? Star kits come in three packages: custom, deluxe, and ultimate. All package prices do not include shipping and handling.
- Custom star kit, $54.00, includes parchment certificate, sky chart, booklet on astronomy and letter of congratulations/memorial.
- Deluxe star kits, $109.95, includes certificate in a matte frame, sky chart, booklet on astronomy, letter of congratulations, and a wallet card with star name and coordinates.
- Ultimate star kit, $154.95 includes everything in the Deluxe star kit, plus a framed star chart.
- Faster shipping available for a fee
5. Starling Star Registry
- About: Starling Star Registry operates worldwide.
- How much to buy a star from Starling Star Registry? The USA Starling gift package, $59, includes star certificate, star map, information documents, and free planetarium software. Different packages and options available in different countries. Shipping and handling is extra. No upgraded shipping available.
6. Name a Star Live
- About: Name a Star Live is the only name a star company who uses your money to help fund real space missions. Not affiliated with NASA. Your star name is actually launched into space, sending “you” to space.
- How much to buy a star from Name a Star Live? Star packages start at $19.95 and up, depending on the types of product add-ons you include. Packages include picking your own star, naming it, coordinates, star charts, astrophotos, space launch, and the ability to watch the launch. Free shipping and handling in the US. Offers 90% refunds on all gift sets. Shipping and handling is non-refundable.
The official entity responsible for the naming of celestial beings, the IAU, doesn’t allow people to buy or name stars. But you can buy or name a star unofficially through the many websites online offering this service. Your star name and purchase will only exist in the chosen company’s database. There is nothing wrong with you buying or naming a star through one of these companies, as long as you realize you are not truly naming or buying a star and have no legitimate claims to any star in the sky.