When you wish upon a star
It’s Valentine’s Day. While that may mean flowers and candy and unicorn giggles for some, for newspapers it means trotting out all those same dusty ideas for spontaneous and exciting gifts. The one that irks me most is naming a star after your loved one.
Seriously, how do people fall for this money-making scheme? Let me make it very clear for you: you do not actually get a star named after you in any sense that means anything at all to anyone.
This is what happens: some company gets themselves a database of star names. You pay them a whack of cash for them to go into their database and change the name of one of the stars. In their database. Which no one else in the entire world refers to. At all. And maybe, if you’re really lucky, they will print out a certificate for you. Which also is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Some go to even further lengths. They let you use a robotic telescope to look at the star which they have renamed (in their database) for you. Some even blast their list of star names into orbit. Why the fact that they are throwing the list away (admittedly in a very expensive manner) makes it somehow more valid, i’m not sure. And they claim that they are not creating orbital litter because the satellite eventually comes crashing back down to earth and burns up in the atmosphere. So, basically, they don’t just throw the list away, they incinerate it. Romantic.
And for this they charge you a minimum of $20.00. This is not a service i would pay 20c for. It is no different than some company starting up a ‘Name a Hollywood Star’ service. You could keep a list of the names of all the hollywood stars, and charge people to have someone’s name changed (in their database). You could pay $20.00 to have Tom Cruise’s name changed to Big Giant Doo Doo Head (in their database). You may even get a certificate to say that his name has officially been changed to Big Giant Doo Doo Head (in their database). But in no way whatsoever is this going to change the fact that the entire world still calls him Tom Cruise.
At least to his face.
And it is exactly the same for those big fireballs in the sky. Just because some company has told you they’ve changed the name of the star, don’t start expecting science papers entitled ‘Late-Time Spectroscopy of Jenny Bloggs: The Prototype of a New Subclass of Type Ia Supernovae’, or for scientists to announce they’ve just discovered a new planet in orbit around John Smith.
Man, people are such suckers.