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Superluminal
2003-Aug-03, 06:37 PM
Why is that company still in business? Or at least take the commercials off the air and make them advetise in UFO mags where the average public wont be exposed to their lies? We had an eldery lady came to a starparty a couple of years ago and wanted to see the star named after her dead son. So one of our members took the coordinates she had with her, pretended to point the telescope, found a small field of faint stars and told her "third one from the left is it." She left happy. But afterwards, we talked about wheather that was the right thing to do. How can they get away with something that is so easy to prove is false? Every time I hear that commercial, I want to put my fist through the radio. After all only the IAU can approve a name for an astronomical object. :x

Glom
2003-Aug-03, 08:10 PM
Surely what they're doing is illegal. The customer is paying to have a star named and the company is lying about delivering.

I sympathise with the moral dilemma. You either tell her that this company exploited her grief or lie about showing her the star.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-03, 10:29 PM
I looked up the site and while is is misleading, it does say that the names are looked up in their directory and can be found using their coordinates. Nowhere does it say that it's the IAU directory. Now Mattel is in on the action with them, selling star dolls with the registry option included. They probably had a good team of lawyers look at it. I do think they should have a disclaimer. However, inferrence is not implication.

Frankly I think any business should be prohibited from using psuedo-oficial names and terminology in blatant attempts at sleight-of-pen. I hate it when I get mail that looks like official government correspondence only like "RUSH, URGENT, AIRMAIL" and such when it ain't.

Didn't someone have a tax scam using the same IRS initials... didn't they get jailtime or something.

At least this one doesn't imply ownership, like lunar land grabs do.

JPax

Doodler
2003-Aug-04, 04:14 PM
The only one I heard with the IRS was a real doozy where a check made out to IRS became MRS <INSERT NAME HERE IN ALL CAPS>

tracer
2003-Aug-04, 08:05 PM
At least this one doesn't imply ownership, like lunar land grabs do.
No, but they do imply that when you name a star -- even though astronomers won't use the name you give it -- no one else will be able to name that star.

And, of course, even this tepid implication isn't true -- one person can name a star through starregistry.com, and another person can name the same star through starwishing.com. (And who knows how many other star naming "services" there are out there?)

In that sense, they do kinda-sorta imply "ownership" which isn't the case.

gethen
2003-Aug-04, 09:43 PM
So we could all just pick a star and name it, for free, couldn't we? It would have the same import as going through one of those star registry things, unless, of course, you want to see it in print in a big "star registry."

frenat
2003-Aug-05, 02:26 AM
You could always just print out your own registry of one. :D

wedgebert
2003-Aug-05, 04:41 AM
The worst part is that it's not like there's a shortage of unnamed stars out there.

I can just see the future now:

500 years from now, after developing FTL travel, a group of colonists settle a planet a few hundred light years from Earth. This is the first habitable planet discovered and a big deal is made of it.

Then it is revealed that 500 years prior, one of the leaders of the colony's ancestor named the star using StarRegistrar.com while another leader's named it using StarWishing.com.

Things escalate and war breaks out. It spreads back to Earth and we end up bombing ourselves back into the Bronze Age on both worlds.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-06, 03:51 AM
[quote=Jpax2003]No, but they do imply that when you name a star -- even though astronomers won't use the name you give it -- no one else will be able to name that star.

And, of course, even this tepid implication isn't true -- one person can name a star through starregistry.com, and another person can name the same star through starwishing.com. (And who knows how many other star naming "services" there are out there?)

In that sense, they do kinda-sorta imply "ownership" which isn't the case.

That's what I meant. I bet that they don't name the star twice in their own directory. But then again, maybe they'll decide that so many people want Polaris named after them that they split it into acerage, or maybe sunspots. More likely, the same company will publish a new book periodically, so that each publishing is an independent registry. See, the legal mind at work.

JPax

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-06, 04:30 AM
So we could all just pick a star and name it, for free, couldn't we? It would have the same import as going through one of those star registry things, unless, of course, you want to see it in print in a big "star registry."


Both of my kids are intensely interested in space (can't imagine where they get that from! :lol: ) and both love being outside looking at the starry night sky. To my family, Venus is Jessie's star after my serenely beautiful 6-year old daughter. Sirius is Nicky's star after my bright, colourful, cheerful 4-year old.

Makes them feel special, didn't cost a cent, and has exactly the same validity as StarRegistry. And everyone is free to use exactly the same ones.

Incidentally, at the small observatory where I work, we often come across the problem of people wanting to 'see' the stars that have purchased for their loved ones. Normally, we just smile and nod and train the telescope on the appropriate co-ordinates & hazard a guess at the right star.

However, a few weeks back, a dear old lady came to us who had 'bought' a star for her recently deceased husband of many years. It was 13th magnitude in the starfields of Sagittarius - like looking for a grain of sand on a beach. I trained the telescope onto the jewel that is Canopus and made a mental note that if ever I found one of these shysters, that they would not make another such sale while in possession of their own teeth...... :evil:

gethen
2003-Aug-06, 02:59 PM
AGN, you obviously handle the new "star owners" with great grace. I'm glad you didn't break the elderly lady's bubble. And if you ever do get your hands on the purveyors of this scam, I would love to help you "reason with them." :wink: I also recall that many, many years ago, when I was young and single, my main squeeze and I, having identified Venus in the evening sky, named the bright star nearest to Venus "Eddie" and considered them "our stars."

dgruss23
2003-Aug-06, 05:21 PM
I haven't really given this issue a lot of thought before. Interesting.

AGN do you think there is harm to the living in naming a star after a dead relative? Was that woman comforted to see a star that was "named" after her husband?

I guess it boils down to the question of false advertising. Do the people who buy these stars understand that the names are not considered official by the astronomical community and therefore it is only "official" in the registry of the company they "bought" the star name from?

I like the idea of privately naming a star for your children. I'll have to take the kids out and do that sometime.
Its free and to a young child it won't matter a bit that its not official.

Glom
2003-Aug-06, 05:34 PM
The issue is not to have a star by which to remember people. The issue is these companies are selling nothing apart from a pretty certificate. The name the company gives to the star is no more valid than if you privately named it yourself. Yet they are giving the impression to the punters that because they've paid $50 (!), all of a sudden it has some kind of legitimacy.

I've been reading the British office (http://www.star-registry.co.uk/giftpack.html).


The star data and newly-given name are sent to our head office in the USA for inclusion in the international register of star names and co-ordinates Your Place in the Cosmos. This is published periodically and Volume VI, currently in preparation, will list all stars and their names registered since August 1999. In addition to the register, the book contains a wealth of astronomical information. Star-namers are notified when the book is published. Copies are also deposited at the Library of Congress in the USA and the British Library in the UK.

They cannot possibly argue that their service involves choosing some star for them to love and cherish. They are definitely giving the impression that the naming is legitimate. I remember a few years ago, the Liquid Helium Queen Anne Robinson hosted Watchdog, a consumer awareness programme, designed to trash on companies that deliver a crap service. There was a section on a star naming company, probably this one, where they pointed out that anyone can publish a book in these types of libraries. That doesn't mean it is IAU approved. Sir Patrick also appeared to trash the company.

kingneptune8
2003-Aug-06, 09:49 PM
Why is that company still in business? Or at least take the commercials off the air and make them advetise in UFO mags where the average public wont be exposed to their lies? We had an eldery lady came to a starparty a couple of years ago and wanted to see the star named after her dead son. So one of our members took the coordinates she had with her, pretended to point the telescope, found a small field of faint stars and told her "third one from the left is it." She left happy. But afterwards, we talked about wheather that was the right thing to do. How can they get away with something that is so easy to prove is false? Every time I hear that commercial, I want to put my fist through the radio. After all only the IAU can approve a name for an astronomical object. :x

Wow... This non-sense has always gone in one ear and out the other, but after reading that I realize... that's really messed up. I think you did the right thing by telling her that, that star was hers. That's sad :(

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-07, 12:25 AM
AGN do you think there is harm to the living in naming a star after a dead relative? Was that woman comforted to see a star that was "named" after her husband?

In principle, no - provided that the person is aware that the 'name' has no formal status. But the same result can be achieved by buying a star chart & picking a pretty/interesting/significant for whatever reason star yourself - no-one is going to argue.

Normally with these (at least here in Oz), the stars 'allocated' are 7th or 8th mag and they usually also give a crude star chart - so it is possible to identify the specific star. What annoyed me in this particular case was that the lady had received a 'star' that would have been quite indistinguishable from the countless other stars that would have been in the same FOV - as well as being from a practical perspective unidentifiable from the broad co-ordinates that she had been given. I mean - 13th magnitude, for heaven's sake! :x She had sought something personal and unique, but that's not really what she received.

I must admit also that my motives were not completely altruistic. Sagittarius was still several hours away from rising, whereas Canopus was still a reasonable altitude above the SW horizon, but low enough that it was shimmering & very colourful through an SCT - I just thought at the time (rightly or wrongly) that it would make a better tribute than some 13th mag speck in a sea of specks.

Was she comforted? Don't know. I hope so.

I like the idea of privately naming a star for your children. I'll have to take the kids out and do that sometime.
Its free and to a young child it won't matter a bit that its not official.

Do it - it's fun! And it is a great excuse to get the kids away from the TV and out under a dark sky. 8)

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-07, 03:48 AM
Both of my kids are intensely interested in space (can't imagine where they get that from! :lol: ) and both love being outside looking at the starry night sky. To my family, Venus is Jessie's star after my serenely beautiful 6-year old daughter. Sirius is Nicky's star after my bright, colourful, cheerful 4-year old.

Makes them feel special, didn't cost a cent, and has exactly the same validity as StarRegistry. And everyone is free to use exactly the same ones.

You could always go get a blank book and draw your own star chart. You can also put in other important items in it. Then it could be saved and cherished from generation to generation. For all of your descendents, it will have more legitimacy than any purchased name registry. And who knows, maybe in the future, after book-burners have torched all of human history, they could start over with you've saved. Is that how the arab names stayed in usage?

JPax

dgruss23
2003-Aug-07, 04:23 AM
Glom wrote: The issue is not to have a star by which to remember people. The issue is these companies are selling nothing apart from a pretty certificate. The name the company gives to the star is no more valid than if you privately named it yourself. Yet they are giving the impression to the punters that because they've paid $50 (!), all of a sudden it has some kind of legitimacy.

As I said, I haven't really given this issue too much thought before. My initial reaction when I first heard about this a few years ago was that it is a ridiculous scam.

But I want to play devil's advocate here because its possible that we've got a biased view (being oriented toward the science of astronomy).

To use a different example consider flowers. They have common names and scientific latin names. Which is the real name? Well it depends upon your purpose. For the average person they see the "sunflower" while the scientist knows the same plant as Helianthus Annuus. Is the scientists name any more correct than the common name? That really depends upon the purpose. For scientific classification the answer is yes. For the average person the common name is the better name.

Why should it be any different for the stars? The formal scientific names or identifications of stars are useful for scientific cataloging and cross comparisons from different data sources. But what difference does that make to the average person not involved in amateur astronomy or astronomical research?

Ambitious people could certainly name a few stars themselves - or even make up their own constellations. But what these star naming companies are doing is offering a service. They're saying they'll create a "registry" and select specific stars for which people can buy the rights to name those stars in that registry. If we object strongly to the star registry companies aren't we really saying that we think only astronomers have the "right" to name stars? Who authorized astronomers as the sole proprietors of star naming? What harm is being done by companies setting up their own registry for naming stars so that the "little person" on the street can participate in naming the stars up there? The purpose in this case is not scientific.

I think someone could make this argument. As long as the product is not improperly advertised so that the purchaser gets the impression they are buying a government or IAU sanctioned name, is there really a crime here. They aren't suggesting that the people have bought the star itself. Its a business. If there is a market for the product, then it will sell. The product that they're offering is a chance for a person to purchase a personalized name for a specific star in a specific registry that is published even though not affiliated with any government or the IAU.

A productive idea might be to actually evaluate the quality of the product offered by these star naming companies. How much scientific information do they provide about the star? Do they give accurate coordinates, spectral class, surface temperature, color, distance, the official scientific name/number of the star and so on? Do they give the purchaser a choice of certain stellar characteristics? Do they provide a short booklet about the actual scientific naming and basics of stars?

Ok, I've just played devil's advocate and in this case I think I swayed myself to the position that the star registry's should be left alone as long as they're not guilty of false/misleading product advertising. However, they should be encouraged to take an educational approach to their product if they do not already.

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-07, 07:51 AM
Yes, I take your point, but I think it is more complex than that:




To use a different example consider flowers. They have common names and scientific latin names. Which is the real name? Well it depends upon your purpose. For the average person they see the "sunflower" while the scientist knows the same plant as Helianthus Annuus. Is the scientists name any more correct than the common name? That really depends upon the purpose. For scientific classification the answer is yes. For the average person the common name is the better name.

And a sunflower to you is a sunflower to me is a sunflower to Joe Anybody. The visible stars (at least, the brighter ones) also all have common names - Sirius, Canopus, Antares, Betelgeuse etc etc etc, which date back to antiquity. For the average person looking up at the night sky - I'm afraid that all those stars were claimed by Greek & Arabic shepherds a couple of millenia ago!

Why should it be any different for the stars? The formal scientific names or identifications of stars are useful for scientific cataloging and cross comparisons from different data sources. But what difference does that make to the average person not involved in amateur astronomy or astronomical research?

Not a whit, it is true. But the bright stars are already claimed, so in general we are looking at assigning names for those stars that require binos or telescopes to see. But there are a number of these star registries operating - suppose Star Registry A takes star HD102667 and allocates it as "Bob", while Star Registry B takes HD102667 and calls it "Alice". Who is right?

The short answer is "Who cares". The astronomer will call it HD102667, Bob will call it Bob and Alice will call it Alice. So why do we need the registry at all? Bob & Alice are both free (and free is the operative word!) to just wander out one pleasant summer evening, pick a pretty star and name it after themselves. No-one is stopping them.

Of course, if Bob & Alice want to have a fancy certificate that actually says that HD102667 is now called Bob or Alice, then so be it. But they must be aware that no other human being beyond that specific Star Registry will have any idea that this is now so. The layperson won't bother (who wants to know the name of a star you can't even see?) and the astronomers won't care, because it is an ambiguous nomenclature.

But what these star naming companies are doing is offering a service. They're saying they'll create a "registry" and select specific stars for which people can buy the rights to name those stars in that registry.

Aye, and there's the rub. The naming rights to these stars are not really theirs to sell. Who gave them the authority to sell these rights? Once again, I can go out into the yard and name Venus after my beautiful daughter, with exactly the same validity as these Star Registries.

If we object strongly to the star registry companies aren't we really saying that we think only astronomers have the "right" to name stars? Who authorized astronomers as the sole proprietors of star naming?

But the IAU is not selling the naming rights. Astronomers per se have no more right to name stars than the man in the street. The IAU allocates a nomenclature that is then used by astronomers around the world. If I take the spectrum of good ol' HD102667 and send an e-mail to 20 astronomers around the world to run the same spectrum, I can be confident that we will all be looking at the same object, because we will all be using the IAU catalogues. If I send that e-mail asking them to check out Bob for me, I'll probably get arrested.

What harm is being done by companies setting up their own registry for naming stars so that the "little person" on the street can participate in naming the stars up there? The purpose in this case is not scientific.

There is no harm, provided that the buyer is aware that astronomers at the VLT are not going to be doing interferometry work on Nigel Crutcheon III tonight. The problem is, that the registries make the sale as though the name will have some sort of validity - but that is not so, it cannot be so. The lady I mentioned earlier had (I suspect) paid money to have her beloved husband immortalised in the heavens. A noble and honourable sentiment. Some huckster took her cash, gave her a star that she will never be able to see, a pretty piece of paper and then moved on to the next rube. I'm afraid that I don't see that as harmless entrepreneurialism - I see that as a scam.

As long as the product is not improperly advertised so that the purchaser gets the impression they are buying a government or IAU sanctioned name, is there really a crime here.

But that is exactly how it is pitched.

Its a business. If there is a market for the product, then it will sell. The product that they're offering is a chance for a person to purchase a personalized name for a specific star in a specific registry that is published even though not affiliated with any government or the IAU.

But it comes back to what the buyer is being told. If the buyer is informed that he or she can go out and name their own star with exactly the same validity, but still chooses to purchase a star from the vendor so that they can have their name written in a published registry, then that is their choice. But then they are effectively aware that what they are buying is a certificate and their name in print.

A productive idea might be to actually evaluate the quality of the product offered by these star naming companies. How much scientific information do they provide about the star? Do they give accurate coordinates, spectral class, surface temperature, color, distance, the official scientific name/number of the star and so on? Do they give the purchaser a choice of certain stellar characteristics? Do they provide a short booklet about the actual scientific naming and basics of stars?

By and large, no. If you have a copy of Phil Plait's outstanding tome Bad Astronomy ( :wink: ), note the comment made by one of these registries as to what would happen if a persons duly named star happened to fall from the sky. They indicate that if the star does fall from the sky, they will be only too happy to name another one, free of charge. Little more need be said as to the educative motivations of such people.

Glom
2003-Aug-07, 09:58 AM
Why should it be any different for the stars? The formal scientific names or identifications of stars are useful for scientific cataloging and cross comparisons from different data sources. But what difference does that make to the average person not involved in amateur astronomy or astronomical research?

By the same token, what makes the name of AGN's daughter any better than Venus? The rest of the world will use Venus but AGN and his family are free to use their name. The argument isn't that we should only use the formal scientific names. It is perfectly alright to have someone assign an informal name to a star for sentimental purposes. The problem is that these companies do not to dissuade, or at worst actively promote, the idea that these names are more than just informal gimics, but are legitimate scientific names.


Ambitious people could certainly name a few stars themselves - or even make up their own constellations. But what these star naming companies are doing is offering a service.

Let's review the service. For the £100 you may invest, you get a pretty certificate and a star map showing "your" star. The punters think that these stars are being formally named in a way that will be recognised. It will not be recognised by anyone but the company and the punter. Astronomers won't use it. Amateur astronomers won't use it. Once the company expires (as if that's going to happen soon), the star name will no longer exist. The company is not formally naming the star.


They're saying they'll create a "registry" and select specific stars for which people can buy the rights to name those stars in that registry.

But they don't have the right to formally name those stars. So the company is lying. The punter has the right to informally name those stars, of course, but they didn't need to shell out £100 to these con men for the privilege.


If we object strongly to the star registry companies aren't we really saying that we think only astronomers have the "right" to name stars? Who authorized astronomers as the sole proprietors of star naming?

The IAU is the non-profit organisation, that is recognised by those who study the skies, either as a profession or just as a hobby, that can assign designations to astronomical objects. Anyone has the right to informally name stars, but it is in a way that no-one else will care.


What harm is being done by companies setting up their own registry for naming stars so that the "little person" on the street can participate in naming the stars up there? The purpose in this case is not scientific.

Agreed. But anyone can name their own star. These companies are telling people you have to part with a large sum of money to do it, when in fact you do not.


I think someone could make this argument. As long as the product is not improperly advertised so that the purchaser gets the impression they are buying a government or IAU sanctioned name, is there really a crime here.

Bingo! It is improperly advertised. The star naming done by these companies is nothing more than an informal gimic, but they convey to the punter that the name is officially recognised. This is improper advertising and hence why the ISR was punished for advertising in New York.


They aren't suggesting that the people have bought the star itself.

They aren't suggesting the punter owns the star, no. But they are suggesting that name is official and legitimate, which it is not.


Its a business. If there is a market for the product, then it will sell. The product that they're offering is a chance for a person to purchase a personalized name for a specific star in a specific registry that is published even though not affiliated with any government or the IAU.

But, they could just as easily do it themselves. I could name the entire sky. I think I'll do it now.

This is the Glom Catalog:
Sirius = Conrad named for the astronaut Pete Conrad
Canopus = Yaeger named for the test pilot Chuck Yaeger
Alpha Centauri = Hubble named for the astronomer Edwin Hubble
Arcturus = Newton named for the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton
Vega = Plait named for BA of course
Spica = Hawking named for the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
Altair = Wilson named for the actor Richard Wilson

I could go on. There it is. Published on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board. These names now have as much legitimacy as the names of the ISR and I didn't con people out of hundreds of pounds to do it.


A productive idea might be to actually evaluate the quality of the product offered by these star naming companies.

Which is a certificate and a star map? I could get that for a tenner.


Ok, I've just played devil's advocate and in this case I think I swayed myself to the position that the star registry's should be left alone as long as they're not guilty of false/misleading product advertising.

They are guilty of false advertising. They are conveying that the star names have some kind of official standing, which they don't beyond the company itself. The name is not recognised throughout the world, despite their assurances that the registry is stored in the Library of Congress and other related institutions.

If people go to the company, aware that they are paying out for nothing more than a gimic, then that's fine. But the punters go there, thinking that the star actually is legitimately named, when in fact it is no more legitimate than if the punter had picked a bright star and named it themselves.

Gremalkyn
2003-Aug-07, 10:01 AM
Re: the list. You just had to "glom" onto those ... :roll:

Glom
2003-Aug-07, 10:02 AM
Re: the list. You just had to "glom" onto those ... :roll:

Naturally.

Glom
2003-Aug-07, 10:14 AM
Here's one for astronomical literacy. I checked the ISR site (http://www.starregistry.com). At the bottom, they've got the zodiac star signs, not the constellations that inspired them. They missed out Ophiucus, and misnamed Scorpius and Capricornus.

Josh_imported
2003-Aug-07, 12:20 PM
Starwishing (http://www.starwishing.com/main.html)does one better by including the actual "registry" (http://www.starcatalog.com/catalog.html) online. Stars are listed by their "SAO numbers," and the catalog is the "SAO Catalog," not to be confused with the NGC or Messier Catalogue, or the dozens of others compiled by intense research in recent decades. What is ironic, is that although these sites claim to have exclusive ownership of the catalogues wherein the named stars are listed, they depend on the scientific community to support their business. How else can they claim to attach your original name to a positively identified star? Consider the story of Jim Craig (http://home.carolina.rr.com/nirgal/buyastar.html), the director of the Schiele Museum of Natural History. (ttp://www.schielemuseum.org/start.asp)

At least The Star Registry is pretty transparent in its aims-note the first four links in the description on the main page go to the same order form. :roll:

M_Welander
2003-Aug-07, 01:27 PM
To use a different example consider flowers. They have common names and scientific latin names. Which is the real name? Well it depends upon your purpose. For the average person they see the "sunflower" while the scientist knows the same plant as Helianthus Annuus. Is the scientists name any more correct than the common name? That really depends upon the purpose. For scientific classification the answer is yes. For the average person the common name is the better name.


And a sunflower to you is a sunflower to me is a sunflower to Joe Anybody.


But that's not entirely true. In fact, I'd say that's not true at all.

Helianthus annuus might be a "sunflower" to Joe Anybody, but it certainly is not to me, nor is it to most people I know. In fact, to me there is no such thing as a "sunflower" at all.

However, to me, as it is to everyone else in this world, there is a flower called Helianthos annuus. It took me 15 seconds to look it up and see that it is actually the flower I know as "solros".

And that, my friends, is precisely the reason why I feel scientific names are so important, no matter if they are assigned to flowers or stars. In a small, closed community, home made names can certainly make sense. But we don't live in such a world any more. That's why it is so important to always use the proper, scientific name, for both flowers and stars.

May those commercial fake star registies go out of business, and true science win in the end.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-07, 02:57 PM
I've looked at both the ISR and the Star Wishing and I'm afraid I need your help here. Could someone please point to the specific claims made on the websites that constitute false advertising?

I think many of you are hung up on the "authority" end of it:


Glom wrote: But they don't have the right to formally name those stars. So the company is lying. The punter has the right to informally name those stars, of course, but they didn't need to shell out £100 to these con men for the privilege.

What do you mean they don't have the right? Who gave professional astronomers the right? Who gave the Greeks the right? Everybody has the right and if you want to publish your names in a book you can. Its precisely because the name is not formal that I don't see the problem.

Look, as I said they are offering a service. Astronomers don't name stars after people, but these people will. You send them 50 or 100 bucks and they'll pick out a star and publish a book with it listed. They'll provide the coordinates coordinates and a corny certificate and perhaps some little book that may or may not be informative. That is what the people are paying for - to be listed in the registry started by this or that naming company.

You created a list of stars with names you made up and you are correct in that you have as much right as the star registry people to do that. But have you published a book of your names? The Star Registry does. And that is the point. That is what people are paying for. Most people are presumably buying these star names for sentimental or romantic reasons.

I really don't see where anybody has made a compelling case that what these companies are doing is wrong or misleading. I certainly think they could be a little better. They should clearly state that their names are not formally recognized by professional astronomers and they don't do that, but neither do they say anything that would directly give that impression. They should point out that the purchaser will need to go to a local public observatory if they want to see the star. They definitely don't do that either.

But neither of those two issues invalidates their right to offer the service they are offering.


M Welander wrote: And that, my friends, is precisely the reason why I feel scientific names are so important, no matter if they are assigned to flowers or stars. In a small, closed community, home made names can certainly make sense. But we don't live in such a world any more. That's why it is so important to always use the proper, scientific name, for both flowers and stars.

And they publish a book with the names so if somebody really wants to they can go look it up. But most people won't care. The people that buy these star names are only going to care about the fact that they have a star out there that they gave a name to and that somebody has published in a book for them. That name has no more or less validity than the scientific names.

I've seen a lot of debates on the BABB about religion imposing upon science. I've got to say I think people need to step back and look at the other side of this. What business is it of the scientific community to go telling a company that they cannot publish a book with stars named by the average person? This sounds like science imposing upon something that is meant to be a little bit of fun. Or are we saying that only scientists have rights to the universe?

Should we file a complaint with Astronomy and Sky&Telescope magazines for referring to the Lagoon Nebula and the Owl nebula, and the wild duck cluster? They are M-8 and, and M-97, and M-11. Or wait - should we be calling them by their NGC numbers? Do they have other catalog numbers? Which one is correct?

I also seem to recall that it was David Eicher that coined the term "Owl Cluster" for the open cluster NGC 457 (which does look like an owl - very pretty!). Was there something wrong with him doing that? Of course not because it served a specific purpose - it was a catchy way of giving a description of the appearance of the cluster in a backyard telescope. By the same token the star naming companies have a specific purpose they are fulfulling with their service. It is not meant to be scientific. It is not advertised as scientific and I don't see where a case has been made that it is the business of scientists to declare these star naming companies as a scam. From what I can see they are offering the product they claim to be offering - a star named by you the purchaser published in their registry.

Glom
2003-Aug-07, 04:18 PM
dgruss, firstly, we question the value of service. $100 is not a small amount of money to many people. They could look up in the sky, pick the brightest star and name it after their loved one or whatever. That would be just as effective and much, much cheaper. It would be easier to see it and be a greater memorial because you would be able to see this dedicated star everytime you looked up at the clear night sky. The $100 you may pay offers more and less. It does give you a pretty little certificate, possibly framed, that you can hang up on your wall. However, the star you'll get it one you won't be able to see without the help of some good equipment. The starmap wouldn't be required if the stars were brighter.

You assert the value of the registry that they send to Congress. How does this really help? The registry means nothing to the astronomical community.

The real problem we have with these companies is thing you downplay. The misleading service. If they explicitly stated that the registry is not astronomically valid, if they explicitly stated that the names they assign to the stars are not recognised by the astronomical community, if they explicitly stated that the only thing of any substance contained in their "service" is a pretty certificate and other accessories, we wouldn't have a problem. If the punter was fully aware of the limitations of the "service" and if the act of shelling out hard earned dollars for some gimic is appealing to the punter, then go ahead. No harm done.

The problem is that their advertising is misleading. They imply to the punter that the star name is legitimately recognised by the astronomical community. And thus the punter thinks that the star name is a proper name this star will have.


However, judging from stories I've heard from astronomers at planetaria and observatories, when most visitors ask to see "their" star, they don't understand that these companies are not official in any way.

It is this misconception that is serious. It is not a minor thing that they could improve. It is a very serious act of deception.

There is only one organisation that can assign names to astronomical objects: The International Astronomical Union. They are empowered in this way because the astronomers and governments of the world have agreed, by treaties and the like, that the IAU should be given responsability for this task.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-07, 05:28 PM
Glom wrote: dgruss, firstly, we question the value of service. $100 is not a small amount of money to many people.

Then they don’t have to buy it.


They could look up in the sky, pick the brightest star and name it after their loved one or whatever. That would be just as effective and much, much cheaper.

That’s up to the individual to decide. For some people the point is that it is registered somewhere with someone. The book again – some people undoubtably like the idea of the book. They’re willing to pay for that.


It would be easier to see it and be a greater memorial because you would be able to see this dedicated star everytime you looked up at the clear night sky.

If they want that they can do that. The existence of the star registry doesn’t infringe upon anybody’s right to do that.


The $100 you may pay offers more and less. It does give you a pretty little certificate, possibly framed, that you can hang up on your wall. However, the star you'll get it one you won't be able to see without the help of some good equipment. The starmap wouldn't be required if the stars were brighter.

Since there are only about 6000 naked eye stars if the service is offered at all they really have no choice.


You assert the value of the registry that they send to Congress. How does this really help? The registry means nothing to the astronomical community.

We complain about the ignorance of most about astronomy all the time. Do you really think that most people care what the astronomical community thinks about it? Don’t you think some people would like the idea that it is in a published book and just think its kind of neat?


The real problem we have with these companies is thing you downplay. The misleading service. If they explicitly stated that the registry is not astronomically valid, if they explicitly stated that the names they assign to the stars are not recognised by the astronomical community, if they explicitly stated that the only thing of any substance contained in their "service" is a pretty certificate and other accessories, we wouldn't have a problem. If the punter was fully aware of the limitations of the "service" and if the act of shelling out hard earned dollars for some gimic is appealing to the punter, then go ahead. No harm done.

So where on the websites have they made a misleading claim? Both the ISR and the StarWishing websites have phone numbers and e-mail contact information. The buyer beware. They do not say that their names are recognized by astronomers. Anybody that assumes that is being careless. Contact them and ask them. I did that a while ago and I’ll report back what they say. I asked them if their star names are recognized by professional astronomers and then I asked them how easy it would be to find the star and whether or not I would need a telescope. Any consumer could do this. If they mislead in answering those questions, THEN they are guilty of false advertising.

As to the “substance” and limitations of their service I really think you’re overlooking the psychology of the thing. People will like the idea of knowing that their name is in the book. THAT is the value. For some people the fact that a person went out and “bought” them a star name will have sentimental value. Sure, if they just did it on their own that would be special, but to each their own.



The problem is that their advertising is misleading. They imply to the punter that the star name is legitimately recognised by the astronomical community. And thus the punter thinks that the star name is a proper name this star will have.

That is not implied in any way on the websites. Anybody who concludes that has drawn a conclusion with no data to support it. I specifically looked before I made my last post. They refer to “their” registry. They make no mention of professional astronomers.


It is this misconception that is serious. It is not a minor thing that they could improve. It is a very serious act of deception.

I don’t think that case has been made. Taking the quote from the BA’s book for example: How did the people come to the conclusion that their star is officially recognized by astronomers? Did the purchaser jump to conclusions without researching the question. If so that is their fault. They could have contacted those companies just like I did a couple of hours ago. If the person that bought them the star said it was official, then that is not the fault of the company.

I am not downplaying anything. I’m asking for someone to make the case – from the information that is provided on those websites that those companies are intentionally misleading. Here is what the ISR says:


Naming stars since 1979, our list of satisfied customers include celebrities, dignitaries, and individuals worldwide. We have named hundreds of thousands of stars for people from all walks of life. So, whether it be for your sweetheart or your top sales agent, a star name makes a unique and welcome gift.

The International Star Registry gift package includes a beautiful 12" x 16" parchment certificate, available framed or unframed, with the name of your choice, dedication date, and telescopic coordinates of the star. You'll also receive an informative booklet with charts of the constellations plus a larger, more detailed chart with the star you name encircled in red.

Because these star names are copyrighted with their telescopic coordinates in the book, "Your Place in the Cosmos," future generations may identify the star name in the directory and, using a telescope, locate the actual star in the sky.

Click here to name a star online or call 1-800-282-3333 to speak with a customer service representative with questions or to place an order.

Even that last statement about finding the star in a telescope is not misleading. In fact it lets the people know its faint – you’ll need a telescope. If they don’t realize how difficult that will be is that any different than the person that - knowing nothing - buys a telescope and finds out that it takes some practice and knowledge of the sky to locate deep sky objects?

The Starwishing site doesn’t make any erronious claims either.


There is only one organisation that can assign names to astronomical objects: The International Astronomical Union. They are empowered in this way because the astronomers and governments of the world have agreed, by treaties and the like, that the IAU should be given responsability for this task.

The key word here is “agreed”. Is this a law? If so then these companies are not a scam, they are lawbreakers. But that hasn’t been what we’ve been debating. Earlier you said you wouldn’t have a problem with it if they clearly stated that they are not recognized by professional astronomers and that the stars will be faint and difficult to find. So which is it?

Sorry to be a pain about this Glom, but I (1) really don’t have a problem with the concept if it’s correctly done. I think you may be underestimating the value that some purchasers will get from this – sentimentally speaking and (2) I still don’t think a strong case has been made that they are intentionally misleading the customers.

The only questionable part I’ve seen is whether or not they provide enough information. But the customers have some responsibility here. The companies make themselves accessible for additional information. If a person is too careless to seek that additional info that is not the fault of the star registry.

And from my perspective numbers 1 and 2 are separate issues. Number 1 is the idea: For a fee, I’ll select a star and give it a name, and publish that name in a book that will be periodically updated. You’ll get a certificate and a map that shows where the star is in the sky. If people are willing to pay for that then I don’t see the problem.

As for the question of misleading advertising, if it turns out that when you contact them they intentionally mislead the potential customer then that we be enough for me to say that these specific companies are dishonest and should not be dealt with. But that doesn’t mean that someone else would be wrong to try and do it the right way – create a registry, make it educational, be clear about the fact that it is not recognized by astronomers, and that the stars may be difficult to find.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-07, 06:02 PM
Ok, I just called the Star Registry phone number provided on their website:

I asked:

(1) If I bought a star how easy it would be to find: The answer paraphrased:

"The stars we are currently naming have magnitudes from 12-16 so you would need a pretty good telescope to see them. We provide the coordinates and a map with the star circled in red and a map that shows the constellations."
(2) There is a local public obsevatory. If I had trouble finding the star could I ask them for help?

"If they offer that service. We've had some customers that have gone to observatories."
(3) Now I'd be giving the star a name which the astronomers wouldn't know. Would they be able to find it?

"We also provide the catalog number recognized by astronomers so that and the coordinates so they should be able to find it. We get our coordinates from the Hubble Space Telescope data."
(4) So, is your registry recognized by astronomers? Would astronomers be using these names?

"No, its a novelty gift. It is not recognized by astronomers."
(5) So its just meant to be a nice kind of gift for birthday's and that sort of thing?

"Yes"

I've paraphrased both my questions and answers, but you get the idea. They were very honest. After I was done asking questions she was not pushy about actually buying a star. Since they were very upfront I really don't see that they are doing anything wrong. Anybody that buy's a star from them can ask the same questions I asked and will not be misled.

Glom
2003-Aug-07, 06:08 PM
Well that's good to know. If only they made it more explicit on their website, there would be less confusion.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-07, 08:05 PM
OK, there are several ways to approach this subject. First we keep hearing that only the IAU has the authority to name astronomical objects. So my question is: Are they naming these stars? We know they are assigning catalogue numbers... but that is not a name.

It's like arguing that the VIN number on your car is the car's name. Toyota may call it a Corrolla, you may call it the Blue Bomber. Who is right? Who has the authority? The US has the legal authority to demand an ID# conforming to their conventions. The State has the legal authority to issue a Plate # for identification. The Dealer has their own ID#, as does the manufacturer. Then the bank has it's own set of numbers for the car and the loan. Finally, you, the owner, have the right to call it whatever you want. And if you think this is a joke, consider that some vehicles are officially named (e.g. the monster truck Big Foot), and those names are legally registered and licensed. This also begs the question of what is the legal status of a copyrighted star registry vs another star registry.

It's all a matter of individual sovereignty. Call it what you want. It's official to you and your family, if they will. Hundreds or thousands of years from now, your decendents may be a majority and change the Official name. Maybe even tomorrow the US government may dump the treaty for the IAU and their authority will be greatly diminished. The IAU's legal authority exists only as long as the law exisits. The UN has the authority only as long as we give them recognition of their authority. This is true of all governments and governing bodies.

If you wish for a higher authority, you'll have to ask God. However God may have already given that to the jews when he said Abraham's descendents will be as numerous as the stars.

I for one, am a sovereign individual, I only obey those laws that I feel are applicable to me. This is true of all persons, I simply declare that I know it and take responsibility for it. I think tonight I will go out and start naming stars. Heck, I already started my own calendar reckoning (and alphabet and language and flag and seal). Those names will be official to me and that's all that matters to me. But I'll still use catalogue numbers and common names when talking to anyone else.

So before we argue the names of stars, perhaps we should decide what is the official name for the planet we reside on. Is it Earth, Terra, Gaia...?

JPax

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-08, 12:18 AM
Ok, I just called the Star Registry phone number provided on their website:

I asked:

(1) If I bought a star how easy it would be to find: The answer paraphrased:

"The stars we are currently naming have magnitudes from 12-16 so you would need a pretty good telescope to see them. We provide the coordinates and a map with the star circled in red and a map that shows the constellations."
(2) There is a local public obsevatory. If I had trouble finding the star could I ask them for help?

"If they offer that service. We've had some customers that have gone to observatories."
(3) Now I'd be giving the star a name which the astronomers wouldn't know. Would they be able to find it?

"We also provide the catalog number recognized by astronomers so that and the coordinates so they should be able to find it. We get our coordinates from the Hubble Space Telescope data."
(4) So, is your registry recognized by astronomers? Would astronomers be using these names?

"No, its a novelty gift. It is not recognized by astronomers."
(5) So its just meant to be a nice kind of gift for birthday's and that sort of thing?

"Yes"

I've paraphrased both my questions and answers, but you get the idea. They were very honest. After I was done asking questions she was not pushy about actually buying a star. Since they were very upfront I really don't see that they are doing anything wrong. Anybody that buy's a star from them can ask the same questions I asked and will not be misled.

These responses are certainly encouraging, but I must agree with Glom that they could be more explicit on their website. Anecdotally I would say that we get one person per month come looking to see 'their' star. When 'their' star is 13th magnitude in the starfields of Sagittarius, then they are going to be sorely disappointed, and as the poor sap on the end of the telescope have to explain why their star is indistinguishable from the other 10,000 in the FOV. And now they are flogging 16th magnitude stars - heaven help us!! Suggesting that you can identify a 16th mag star with a telescope & a star chart is simply disingenuous:


Because these star names are copyrighted with their telescopic coordinates in the book, "Your Place in the Cosmos," future generations may identify the star name in the directory and, using a telescope, locate the actual star in the sky.

Technically true, but it probably should be mentioned that the telescope needed is Keck! :lol: To me also, the comment that 'future generations may identify the star name in the directory' is also misleading - although they do specify 'in the directory', to the layperson who has no knowledge of how stars are catalogued, this to them may represent some form of official nomenclature. Certainly the reference to 'future generations' implies a permanence of the record.

Look, as I have stated before, I have no objection to the idea in principle, provided the punter is being given all of the facts. If the sales pitch is open & honest (and better still, educational) and the buyer still buys, then that is their informed choice and best of luck to all parties.

By the way - finally made post number 100! \:D/ \:D/ \:D/

M_Welander
2003-Aug-08, 12:30 AM
So far, we've only seen one side of their telephone resonse. They were given to, and paraphrased by, a person who feels the company is not doing something wrong, and are not misleading people.

I'd like to hear someone who feels they are indeed doing something wrong call them, and transcribe their conversiation with the company as well, so we can hear how those of us who take the other point of view would interpret their response.

My guess is it would not be as encouraging as the response transcribed above.

DonM435
2003-Aug-08, 01:15 AM
Suppose I pay the fee and have a 13th magnitude star in Blatta the Cockroach named for my late brother-in-law. A century later that star is found to be a supernova easily observable from Earth. Do you think they'll check these records and honor that naming? Yeah, right!

After the Challenger disaster in 1986, some local Florida representative paid the fee to have a star named for the teacher-astronaut (he didn't spring for seven stars). I learned this when they played his floor speech on the radio newscast. He may have meant well, but you have to question his judgmnent.

Josh_imported
2003-Aug-08, 01:22 AM
I agree that the buyer must be responsible for investigating and otherwise testing the product. I also believe that the companies we have been discussing probably mean no harm, and are not intentionally misleading. Still, there are a couple of things that don't seem right.

The issue of an authority is an important one. John Stuart Mill wrote, “The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own." If it is just a novelty, why list stars by "SAO number" (Star Wishing), or include them in the "International Star Registry" in a vault in Switzerland (International Star Registry)? Wouldn't just an alphabetized list be sufficient? Few people would be willing to pay to name a star if they thought the company would fold in ten years. It certainly sounds more impressive, legitimate, and most importantly, permanent if your star has a number, and is "officially registered."

Naming stars may be a novelty, but the websites don't exactly go out of their way to present them as such, using words like "timeless" and "unique," and, "lasting memories are written in the stars," to describe their service, and endowing them with official identities.

International Star Registry came clean when asked the right kinds of questions, but how many people know what to ask? The company is going to give me a map to show me the location of the star, so why should I expect it to be difficult to see? If you know a little something about visual magnitudes (and limiting visual magnitudes), it's easy to understand.

I don't think I would be so bothered by the star-hawking trade if it didn't include memorial gifts.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-08, 01:30 AM
So far, we've only seen one side of their telephone resonse. They were given to, and paraphrased by, a person who feels the company is not doing something wrong, and are not misleading people.

I'd like to hear someone who feels they are indeed doing something wrong call them, and transcribe their conversiation with the company as well, so we can hear how those of us who take the other point of view would interpret their response.

My guess is it would not be as encouraging as the response transcribed above.

What "interpreting" do you think is going on here? Take a look at my posts. I have two issues here. First, I have stated that I think there is nothing wrong with a company doing this if it is done correctly. Second, I have not seen a compelling argument that these companies are misleading people. If you look carefully you will see that I specifically said I consider these two separate issues. Even if Star Registry turned out to be misleading people, I still feel a responsible company has the right to sell star names for their own company registry.

Why does that matter? Sure you don't know me, but honesty I take personally. If I was lied to or misled when I made that phone call you can bet I would have told you. I don't give a rats rear about Star Registry specifically. What I wrote above is paraphrased because I will not claim that the exact wording of each sentence is exactly how the conversation went - but the content of the responses is 100% accurate. It is not exaggerated or selectively presented.

I'm capable of giving you and did give you an unbiased account of my conversation with Laura (that was her name) and frankly I don't like your implication otherwise with your last sentence. YOU are implying that I am misleading the people on this bulletin board.

So by all means call them. And I suppose you have the ability to give an unbiased account that you suspect I lack? The more people that call the better. I'd genuinely like AGN fuel to call them because he has spoken with people that have been confused about these star naming services and he's shown a fair approach to this question.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-08, 01:47 AM
I agree that the buyer must be responsible for investigating and otherwise testing the product. I also believe that the companies we have been discussing probably mean no harm, and are not intentionally misleading.

Yes, and nobody has presented evidence to the contrary. I'm a little bothered here that scientifically minded people are willing to characterize these companies without doing the research and having specific evidence to back up their position.


The issue of an authority is an important one. John Stuart Mill wrote, “The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own." If it is just a novelty, why list stars by "SAO number" (Star Wishing), or include them in the "International Star Registry" in a vault in Switzerland (International Star Registry)? Wouldn't just an alphabetized list be sufficient? Few people would be willing to pay to name a star if they thought the company would fold in ten years. It certainly sounds more impressive, legitimate, and most importantly, permanent if your star has a number, and is "officially registered."

This is the point that I really think people are missing. These companies have the RIGHT to do this. And if they think that putting it in a vault in Switzerland will make their product more marketable then so what? In all this I don't here anybody acknowledging that maybe some people get something positive out of buying these star names. Is it really that hard to grasp that there is a sentimental thing that goes with purchasing a star name? When they acknowledge it is a novelty they are pointing out that they are offering this to people that are not scientists. Why can't there be a "registry" of star names that has nothing to do with SCIENCE? And unless somebody makes a valid claim as to why they shouldn't exist, then ANYBODY that wants to can start one.


Naming stars may be a novelty, but the websites don't exactly go out of their way to present them as such, using words like "timeless" and "unique," and, "lasting memories are written in the stars," to describe their service, and endowing them with official identities.

Yes and that is the only criticism I have of them, but if you call them you get the full scoop. And the phrases such as "timeless" is a sales pitch. Everybody that sells something tries to come up with these kinds of phrases or similar images.


International Star Registry came clean when asked the right kinds of questions, but how many people know what to ask? The company is going to give me a map to show me the location of the star, so why should I expect it to be difficult to see? If you know a little something about visual magnitudes (and limiting visual magnitudes), it's easy to understand.

That certainly must happen, but that is not the fault of the company selling the name and it has nothing to do with the right of these companies to offer a star naming registry. I remember in 6th grade being taught about techniques advertisers use to sell their products. Its not the fault of the ISR if many people lack the common sense to realize that.

And again - most of the people who purchase or receive these star names are getting the sentimental and "ooh that's really neat" benefit. It doesn't matter that its not officially sanctioned by the IAU. It doesn't have to be.

Sorry if I'm not remaining calm :wink: here. But I really think people need to realize that for the average non-scientist this is simply something that is NEAT.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-08, 03:44 AM
Being smarter than those punters does not mean you are right. Authority only counts to those willing to recognize it. If the unruly masses have the right of franchise in this country (USA) then the people are the over-ruling legal authority. At least that's the principle inheirent in the American Declaration of Independence.

Consider this: Put 100 astronomers in a field with 1000 punters and then you'll see who is "right." I hate to seemingly resort to violence, but that's the unvarnished truth.

What does a 400 lbs gorilla call the pole-star? Anything it wants to.

JPax

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-08, 05:01 AM
I'd genuinely like AGN fuel to call them because he has spoken with people that have been confused about these star naming services.

Done - I rang posing as a complete astronomical novice requesting information on what services their company provides. The gentleman who took my call was certainly well versed in his subject and clearly had a well-rehearsed spiel, but by the same token he did not tell me anything that was strictly factually incorrect (although he skated close to the edge a couple of times).

Without being prompted, he indicated that the stars in question were below naked eye visibility, but could be seen through a 'domestic' 4" telescope. He said that the stars were from the Hubble Guide Catalogue and as such were unnamed, and represented "the 17,000,000 stars known to man". He indicated that the ISR was the only registry of the names of stars (I'm not sure this is correct...) and that my name (or the name of a loved one) would be recorded 'for posterity'. With the certificate, I would receive a detailed map so I could locate it and scientific details of the star, including type, brightness, etc. He confirmed that I would not be buying the star itself, but buying the naming rights to be included in their registry, so becoming "a gift that's there forever, protected by copyright".

On specific questioning, he stated categorically that astronomers would not use my star's name, explaining that 'astronomers do not use the names of stars, they use the catalogue numbers. The catalogue number does not change when you give your star a name'. I pressed my concerns regarding the brightness of the star and how easy it would be for a novice to find, so he gave me a quick lesson in magnitudes. He stated that the stars sold by the registry are usually magnitude 11-12 (although he stated that there is only about a 10% difference in brightness in the all stars that they sell - that is not correct). He warned that some stars would be harder to find than others, but that with the map, anyone with a telescope should be able to point it out for me (that is probably stretching things a bit).

Rather embarrassingly, when I told him where I lived, he excitedly recommended the observatory where I work as having helped a number of his clients find their stars in the past and he put me on hold for a minute or two so that he could get the telephone number for me! :oops:

The cost of the service floored me - $220.00 unframed or $275.00 framed certificate, add another $20 if you want it special delivery.

What I would like to do (probably next week, so as not to arouse suspicion!) is ring again as an astronomer complaining about having to find a 13th mag star in Sagittarius for an elderly lady & see what the response is. However, I must say that the gentleman was helpful, enthusiastic, keen to make a sale (and made a number of references to 'gift that's there forever', 'posterity' and my decendants), but he did not indicate that the name would be in common usage, nor did he make any pretence that I would be able to see the star just by walking out into the backyard.

Bottom line I suppose, is that I am still not convinced that anyone need pay $275.00 for a parchment certificate and your name in a book (my name is already in the White Pages, with about the same level of detail!) and I challenge any city dweller to make out a 12th magnitude star in a dense starfield with a 4" department store telescope, but there was no overt deception.

Your point is taken dgruss23 and I do feel a little kinder towards them than I did an hour ago - however, I would still prefer that they were a bit clearer up front about the validity of the 'name' and that it would not be used by astronomers (it appears on their FAQ, but so does the "falling from the sky" query - I can't believe that hasn't been removed yet after BA's book came out!). $275 also seems outrageously expensive given the name has absolutely no validity outside of their own registry.

Chuck
2003-Aug-08, 07:33 AM
Maybe you could tell him you were thinking of registering stars yourself for less money that Star Registry charges and ask if they have any kind of patent or copyright that would prevent you from doing so. Maybe they'd lie to protect their business and threaten you with a lawsuit.

Josh_imported
2003-Aug-08, 12:58 PM
I'm a little bothered here that scientifically minded people are willing to characterize these companies without doing the research and having specific evidence to back up their position.

Characterize, yes. Outright condemn, no. That's what this board is all about-dialogue, discussion, and I hope, the freedom to change one's mind when new evidence is found or arises.



If it is just a novelty, why list stars by "SAO number" (Star Wishing), or include them in the "International Star Registry" in a vault in Switzerland (International Star Registry)? Wouldn't just an alphabetized list be sufficient? Few people would be willing to pay to name a star if they thought the company would fold in ten years. It certainly sounds more impressive, legitimate, and most importantly, permanent if your star has a number, and is "officially registered."

This is the point that I really think people are missing. These companies have the RIGHT to do this. And if they think that putting it in a vault in Switzerland will make their product more marketable then so what? In all this I don't here anybody acknowledging that maybe some people get something positive out of buying these star names. Is it really that hard to grasp that there is a sentimental thing that goes with purchasing a star name? When they acknowledge it is a novelty they are pointing out that they are offering this to people that are not scientists.

Nowhere did I state that there was no benefit to be gotten from those services. Who has denied the sentimental value? If it makes any difference, I freely admit that people can and do get satisfaction from purchasing a star name. But I think you too are missing the point. It's not about science at all, but like so much in business, it's about appearances. What am I really buying for $200? Maybe most customers don't care where their star is registered, or whether they can actually see it, as long as they get the goods. It remains a question as to whether they're getting what they expect for their money. Why bother paying $200 for a simple certificate when you can make your own on MS Word or Photo Shop?


Why can't there be a "registry" of star names that has nothing to do with SCIENCE? And unless somebody makes a valid claim as to why they shouldn't exist, then ANYBODY that wants to can start one.

I agree completely, and have nothing against creating an independent list or registry. So why do these companies go to such lengths to make the lists look scientific? As I already mentioned, why wouldn't an alphabetized list alone suffice?



Naming stars may be a novelty, but the websites don't exactly go out of their way to present them as such, using words like "timeless" and "unique," and, "lasting memories are written in the stars," to describe their service, and endowing them with official identities.

Yes and that is the only criticism I have of them, but if you call them you get the full scoop. And the phrases such as "timeless" is a sales pitch. Everybody that sells something tries to come up with these kinds of phrases or similar images.

Good point, and after reading both your and AGN Fuel's experiences of talking on the phone with company representatives, I am pretty much convinced there is no intentional deception.

The only thing you didn't comment on from my post was the memorials. I'm still curious to know what you (and anyone else of course) think about those.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-08, 01:36 PM
I'm a little bothered here that scientifically minded people are willing to characterize these companies without doing the research and having specific evidence to back up their position.

Characterize, yes. Outright condemn, no. That's what this board is all about-dialogue, discussion, and I hope, the freedom to change one's mind when new evidence is found or arises.

Condemn - really that is the word I should have used. I think people were condemning these companies as overtly misleading.

With regard to this issue, I did change my mind. I initially reacted to these companies a few years ago as most people here have. But after giving it more thought literally on this thread - I changed my mind.



If it is just a novelty, why list stars by "SAO number" (Star Wishing), or include them in the "International Star Registry" in a vault in Switzerland (International Star Registry)? Wouldn't just an alphabetized list be sufficient? Few people would be willing to pay to name a star if they thought the company would fold in ten years. It certainly sounds more impressive, legitimate, and most importantly, permanent if your star has a number, and is "officially registered."

This is the point that I really think people are missing. These companies have the RIGHT to do this. And if they think that putting it in a vault in Switzerland will make their product more marketable then so what? In all this I don't here anybody acknowledging that maybe some people get something positive out of buying these star names. Is it really that hard to grasp that there is a sentimental thing that goes with purchasing a star name? When they acknowledge it is a novelty they are pointing out that they are offering this to people that are not scientists.


Josh wrote: Nowhere did I state that there was no benefit to be gotten from those services. Who has denied the sentimental value? If it makes any difference, I freely admit that people can and do get satisfaction from purchasing a star name.

Sorry - at that point I was responding in general and not to you specifically. Others have said that. And I do think the sentimental value is denied when some emphasize that they don't think people are getting anything for the $200 or whatever it amounts to. That is the consumers choice.


But I think you too are missing the point. It's not about science at all, but like so much in business, it's about appearances.

Exactly. Its a business. I don't understand why we would criticize them for using cute little phrases like "timeless" to try and sell a product. That is what businesses do.


What am I really buying for $200? Maybe most customers don't care where their star is registered, or whether they can actually see it, as long as they get the goods. It remains a question as to whether they're getting what they expect for their money. Why bother paying $200 for a simple certificate when you can make your own on MS Word or Photo Shop?

Again I think the idea of it being published in a book and recognized by somebody - even if its only this company - is part of the appeal. Don't forget either that when they buy one of these they will see their name along with celebrities and other famous people. Some people like that kind of stuff and its part of what they are forking over the money for.


Why can't there be a "registry" of star names that has nothing to do with SCIENCE? And unless somebody makes a valid claim as to why they shouldn't exist, then ANYBODY that wants to can start one.


I agree completely, and have nothing against creating an independent list or registry. So why do these companies go to such lengths to make the lists look scientific? As I already mentioned, why wouldn't an alphabetized list alone suffice?

By doing that doesn't it make people feel that they get more for their money. If they didn't do that wouldn't it be letting down the customers. I also haven't seen a page from their book so I don't know how scientific it actually looks.



The only thing you didn't comment on from my post was the memorials. I'm still curious to know what you (and anyone else of course) think about those.

I must have missed that on their website. I've got a busy day ahead so I'll have to get back to you on that one. BTW Josh, I wasn't really upset with anything you said specifically so if my response sounded emotion is was more because of the previous response in which it was implied that I was misleading the people on this board about my conversation with the Star Registry.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-08, 01:44 PM
AGN - Thanks for doing that! :D And I agree with you - as I've stated in earlier posts - that they could improve their site by clarifying the issues of finding these stars and the fact that they are not recognized by astronomers. You'd also think they could fix the "falling star" item! :o

Josh_imported
2003-Aug-09, 01:28 PM
Dgruss,

No offense taken. It's been a good debate and I've learned a lot. I also appreciate the fact that you and AGN took the time to research as thoroughly as you did, actually contacting the companies and talking with the employees.

kilopi
2003-Aug-09, 02:18 PM
Being smarter than those punters does not mean you are right. Authority only counts to those willing to recognize it. If the unruly masses have the right of franchise in this country (USA) then the people are the over-ruling legal authority. At least that's the principle inheirent in the American Declaration of Independence.
One of the principles of the american system is preservation of the rights of the minority. No "over-ruling" that.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-10, 10:29 PM
One of the principles of the american system is preservation of the rights of the minority. No "over-ruling" that.

Yes, you are correct. The US system of government is a republic (with democratic tendencies), which tries to balance the rights of the minority with the rights of the majority. Trying to give more justice to one group inevitably becomes a real or perceived injustice to another group. If the US were a true democracy, then the rights of the minority would be non-existent.

Unfortunately you are wrong that there is no over-ruling of the rights of the minority. It occurs, and with alarming frequency, even if it is not so blatant as it used to be (e.g. legal slavery for almost 100 years after the DOI).

I was primarily referencing the US DOI and it's principles and not the US Constitution which is the actual legal contract authorizing the creation of a governing legal authority. The "consent of the governed" is the basis for all human government (whether it is codified or not).

The IAU may be considered a minority in a numerical sense, however it's authority makes it a governing body as opposed to a body of the governed. The IAU has authority in astronomical names because it was given to them. This authority could very easily be revoked and given to Star Registry if the US government decided.

Consider this scenario. A star is named after a living (ex) president. That (ex) president dies and people want to commemorate him. The execs at a star name registry company publicize his star and ask everyone to remember him that way. A sentimental grandmother in a rural part of the US (where this star is visible) writes her congressman asking to make the star's name official. This congressman, seeking a tough re-election campaign, goes ahead with it for the sympathetic vote. Others jump on the bandwagon. Late-night and day-time tv alike have shows on the topic and write-in campaigns ensue. Congress finally decides to vote on it and it passes by a vote of acclamation. (It's not nearly as difficult a vote as removing personal liberties for homeland security.) It's one star down, and a precedent for millions. The IAU's authority is a slow death spiral, or they acknowledge the one time special occasion... until it happens again.

This US legislation would only have jurisdiction in the US, but that would make the number of adhering countries 65, about half of all the countries on earth. Being a major player, it would have a profound effect. Consider the fact that any work published in the US on said star would be legally required to include the star name registry company's copyrighted and congressionally legislated name. Moreover, those current non-adhering countries could legally adopt the star name registry company's list as official without any pesky international treaties to break.

Here in Chicago, Comiskey Park is where the White Sox play and is called that by most people in town. However, TV/radio newscasters and newspapers anywhere are legally required to call it US Cellular Field, under penalty of lawsuit. Even the USPS and Rand McNally, call it by the new name.

I do think the IAU should be the official and internationally recognized authority on astronomical objects today. However, it only stays that way until we change it. Eventually there will be a planetary government, we will become a space-faring people, and the IAU as an separate body will cease to exist. Their days may be long, but they are numbered as the authoritative institution it is today.

JPax

dgruss23
2003-Aug-10, 10:36 PM
Interesting Jpax2003, but there is one important point to consider. The official IAU cataloging of stars serves the purposes of science. The various star naming registrys serve the purpose of providing a sentimental novelty gift for private citizens around the world. I don't see why these two purposes should ever come into conflict - except through misinformation. Scientists have no need of the private names, and the people who have privately names stars have little use for the scientific names. Each should leave the other alone.

kilopi
2003-Aug-10, 11:01 PM
I was primarily referencing the US DOI and it's principles and not the US Constitution which is the actual legal contract authorizing the creation of a governing legal authority. The "consent of the governed" is the basis for all human government (whether it is codified or not).
It's good you looked that up, then. Kinda negates your previous statement, "If the unruly masses have the right of franchise in this country (USA) then the people are the over-ruling legal authority." The pen (or, in some cases, TRL) is still mightier than the sword.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-11, 03:15 AM
It's good you looked that up, then. Kinda negates your previous statement, "If the unruly masses have the right of franchise in this country (USA) then the people are the over-ruling legal authority." The pen (or, in some cases, TRL) is still mightier than the sword.

I'm sure I know what I am talking about. However, I am not sure I understand what it is you think I am talking about. The principles I've elucidated have no conflict with each other so far as I use them. The US-DOI and the US Constitution are both clear on the point. A government is only legitimate based on the "consent of the governed." Most political scientists are on agreement on this. However, there is ongoing debate as to the duration of that consent and whether it need be confirmed on a periodic basis. Talk of "trees of liberty" and "blood of patriots and tyrants" is interesting, however it does not answer the actual issue. Is the consent given everytime one pays taxes, everytime someone votes, everytime someone pays a speeding ticket? We do not currently have an established method of confirming the consent originally granted to the US Constitution.

However, we do have several methods of removing consent. The Constitution may be amended, or a convention may be called to overhaul it entirely. Then there is the much debated method implicit in the 2nd Ammendment. While the constitutional wording may appear ambiguous, the writings of the Federalists were not. This is highlighted in their rebellious actions prior. We draw our authority from the principles in US-DOI, which was the manner in which we formally withdrew the consent of those who were governed by King George III.

We de-consented, King George resented,
through force of arms, he then relented,
the people now are represented

I do not contradict myself. The fulcrum of US politics is between personal liberty and general security. Several times in US history have people been agrieved and picked up arms, or threatened to do such. Several times this has ended in bloodshed. The pen is only mightier than the sword when we agree to live by the strokes of that pen. However, the sword requires no such confluence of endeavor. Some say violence solves nothing. In truth it solves most things, but it leaves a big mess to clean up.

To sum up, my previous statements were consistent. The people do have the franchise, but even if they did not, they would be the over-rulling legal authority. This has been expressed in the written contract we call the US Constitution. The constitution is the legal authority of the government, charted within, yet the OVER-ruling authority is the un-ruly masses... so long as they consent.

Consider this legal argument: If consent is by the governed; And, If the expression of that franchise is the execution of that consent; And, if a majority of consent is required for authority to be vested in that government; And, if the non-expression of that franchise is the execution of a denial of consent; Then, the possibility exists that a total voter turnout of less than 50% +1 in any given election indicates that consent of the governed no longer authorizes the existing government. Thus, the US Constitution is no longer valid.

But it may still be possible that we could operate on the current contract until negotiations result in a new and improved contract.

What's this got to do with star name registries? not much anymore. I just think that requests some have made for legal injunction against star name registries is silly. Much of it appeared to be based on arrogance, more than on established legal doctrine. Then to assert that some NGO trumps domestic law without even a cursory examination of the facts. Then to assert that those who did make an examination were inventing their facts. At that point I decided that a review of constitutional law and political pragmatics was indicated.

degruss23, I agree 100%. The systematic cataloging of stars if beneficial to whomever finds it useful. If the star name registry companies find it useful, then more power to them. It is not impossible that professional astronomers may also find value in an astral-nomination as memorial. There is no reason for the two purposes to come into conflict, although some may have suggested otherwise.


The official IAU cataloging of stars serves the purposes of science.

And science serves the purposes of humanity.

JPax

kilopi
2003-Aug-11, 08:35 AM
I'm a little bothered here that scientifically minded people are willing to characterize these companies without doing the research and having specific evidence to back up their position.
Do you have specific evidence to back up your position that those people are actually scientifically minded? :)

I'm sure I know what I am talking about. However, I am not sure I understand what it is you think I am talking about.
We're talking about the star registry. Remember, pyramid schemes have been reinvented as multi-level marketing. One's illegal, the other is legal. So far. As we all know, "legal" is not the same thing as "ethical" or "moral" or "pragmatic".

To sum up, my previous statements were consistent. The people do have the franchise, but even if they did not, they would be the over-rulling legal authority. This has been expressed in the written contract we call the US Constitution. The constitution is the legal authority of the government, charted within, yet the OVER-ruling authority is the un-ruly masses... so long as they consent.
You called them the "over-ruling legal authority" before. Big difference.


Thus, the US Constitution is no longer valid.

But it may still be possible that we could operate on the current contract until negotiations result in a new and improved contract.



It is not impossible that professional astronomers may also find value in an astral-nomination as memorial. There is no reason for the two purposes to come into conflict, although some may have suggested otherwise.
Phil Plait has a star named after him. He mentions it in his book.

Glom
2003-Aug-11, 09:49 AM
The IAU has authority in astronomical names because it was given to them. This authority could very easily be revoked and given to Star Registry if the US government decided.

Not really. The IAU is an international organisation. They can't just be stopped by one government.

Colt
2003-Aug-11, 10:34 AM
Yep, the United States government isn't all powerful. One day Alaskans will sweep down and across Canada and take over the pitiful Lower 48! Then the Empire of Alaska will be born. :D -Colt

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-11, 05:11 PM
To sum up, my previous statements were consistent. The people do have the franchise, but even if they did not, they would be the over-rulling legal authority. This has been expressed in the written contract we call the US Constitution. The constitution is the legal authority of the government, charted within, yet the OVER-ruling authority is the un-ruly masses... so long as they consent.

You called them the "over-ruling legal authority" before. Big difference.

If you'll note, I call them that in the passage you are quoting. I try try to avoid being sesquapedalian. The un-ruly masses are the over-ruling authority over all government. If codified in the laws of the government then it can also be labeled "legal" authority. In a democracy, the people are the over-ruling legal authority. If the government is a tyrrany, then you might say that the people are not the over-ruling legal authority, but they would still be the over-ruling authority.


It is not impossible that professional astronomers may also find value in an astral-nomination as memorial. There is no reason for the two purposes to come into conflict, although some may have suggested otherwise.

Phil Plait has a star named after him. He mentions it in his book.
Cool.



The IAU has authority in astronomical names because it was given to them. This authority could very easily be revoked and given to Star Registry if the US government decided.

Not really. The IAU is an international organisation. They can't just be stopped by one government.
Are you sure about that? Do you know how many international treaties the US has unilaterally broken in recent years? Do you know how many treaties and resolutions would cease to function if the US makes the UN irrelevant? Do you know how many bombs would make the IAU cease to exist? (answer: not many) There are quite a few ways that one government an stop the IAU.

JPax

kilopi
2003-Aug-11, 05:57 PM
The un-ruly masses are the over-ruling authority over all government. If codified in the laws of the government then it can also be labeled "legal" authority. In a democracy, the people are the over-ruling legal authority.
The United States is not a democracy.

If the government is a tyrrany, then you might say that the people are not the over-ruling legal authority, but they would still be the over-ruling authority.
The USA is not a tyranny either, but in the USA, the mob is not a legal authority.


Are you sure about that? Do you know how many international treaties the US has unilaterally broken in recent years? Do you know how many treaties and resolutions would cease to function if the US makes the UN irrelevant? Do you know how many bombs would make the IAU cease to exist?
Now you're being silly. :)

It would not take much for the actions of the ISR to be declared illegal. In fact, the more successful they are, the more likely it is. There are a finite number of appropriate stars, so they're bound to recycle them. Someone'll get t*cked, and someone else will try to make a law against it. The existence of the IAU makes it more likely that such an effort would be successful, regardless of how poorly they've budgeted for missile shielding and their own international military defense. Perhaps the IAU copy right is being violated somehow??

The right of free speech allows anyone to demand that something be made illegal--that doesn't mean that the demand will be successful. Nor will that something be judged illegal just because someone is charging for junk--pet rocks were big sellers, decades ago. We know that. Still dumb.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-11, 10:07 PM
kilopi wrote: It would not take much for the actions of the ISR to be declared illegal. In fact, the more successful they are, the more likely it is. There are a finite number of appropriate stars, so they're bound to recycle them. Someone'll get t*cked, and someone else will try to make a law against it.

IF they recycle them they would be violating their own guarantee. They'd be stupid to do that. But if they were that stupid what legal grounds are there for making their operation illegal? They might get sued. Heck McDonalds is getting sued because some people have overweight children so I suppose these companies could be sued for offering faint stars.

If by chance a law was passed that made them illegal in the United States I suspect several things might happen. First the people that bought the rights to name a star in these catalogs will probably think its a bit off the deep end that a harmless novelty gift should be outlawed. Second the companies in question could simply move their operation to another country. Is someone really going to bother pushing for a law that makes it illegal for US citizens to BUY these star names?


The existence of the IAU makes it more likely that such an effort would be successful, regardless of how poorly they've budgeted for missile shielding and their own international military defense. Perhaps the IAU copy right is being violated somehow??

IMO it would be arrogance on the part of the scientific community to stand behind a push to make this illegal - unless a case could be made that these lists harm the scientific process. They're novelty gifts. Its supposed to be fun for the people that buy and receive these. It won't harm research in any way. I don't think too many people in astronomical research are going to be fooled by a catalog of stars named "Fred", "Myrtle", and so on.

TriangleMan
2003-Aug-11, 10:25 PM
IMO it would be arrogance on the part of the scientific community to stand behind a push to make this illegal - unless a case could be made that these lists harm the scientific process. They're novelty gifts. Its supposed to be fun for the people that buy and receive these. It won't harm research in any way. I don't think too many people in astronomical research are going to be fooled by a catalog of stars named "Fred", "Myrtle", and so on.

In such a case I agree. Heck - I could make my own catalog of star names if I wanted to and if someone wanted to pay me some $ to have some names placed in my catalog then that's their (and my) right. If astonomers don't like it, tough.

However . . .

If someone who paid money for a star name actually thought it was going to be used by astronomers;
And they wouldn't have paid for the star name had they realized that it wasn't going to be used 'officially' by astronomers;
And ISR realizes this and so doesn't put an obvious disclaimer about this on their website or radio ads because it would hurt sales;

Then they are engaging in (IMHO) deceptive practices. Not fraud, because the company does not deliberately make false claims, but deceptive nonetheless. [-X

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-13, 03:41 AM
The un-ruly masses are the over-ruling authority over all government. If codified in the laws of the government then it can also be labeled "legal" authority. In a democracy, the people are the over-ruling legal authority.
The United States is not a democracy.

Hmmm, I think I already said that in an earlier post.

The US system of government is a republic (with democratic tendencies), which tries to balance the rights of the minority with the rights of the majority. Trying to give more justice to one group inevitably becomes a real or perceived injustice to another group. If the US were a true democracy, then the rights of the minority would be non-existent.




If the government is a tyrrany, then you might say that the people are not the over-ruling legal authority, but they would still be the over-ruling authority.
The USA is not a tyranny either, but in the USA, the mob is not a legal authority.
Those with the fanchise are the legal authority. Any mob is an authority, albeit transient... or until quelled by force. I think I already suggested that in an earlier post.




Are you sure about that? Do you know how many international treaties the US has unilaterally broken in recent years? Do you know how many treaties and resolutions would cease to function if the US makes the UN irrelevant? Do you know how many bombs would make the IAU cease to exist?
Now you're being silly. :)

Yes. Seemed to be getting heated in here. But it is true that a treaty is only good until someone breaks it.


It would not take much for the actions of the ISR to be declared illegal. In fact, the more successful they are, the more likely it is. There are a finite number of appropriate stars, so they're bound to recycle them. Someone'll get t*cked, and someone else will try to make a law against it. The existence of the IAU makes it more likely that such an effort would be successful, regardless of how poorly they've budgeted for missile shielding and their own international military defense. Perhaps the IAU copy right is being violated somehow??
Absolutely. But that also means it could be declared legal. Never underestimate the ability of american jurisprudence to reach for the absurd. The IAU does have a page regarding this specific topic and suggests that illegitimate usage of their name would be grounds for suit.


If someone who paid money for a star name actually thought it was going to be used by astronomers;
And they wouldn't have paid for the star name had they realized that it wasn't going to be used 'officially' by astronomers;
And ISR realizes this and so doesn't put an obvious disclaimer about this on their website or radio ads because it would hurt sales;

Then they are engaging in (IMHO) deceptive practices. Not fraud, because the company does not deliberately make false claims, but deceptive nonetheless.
Someone can sell crap if the market wants crap, as long as they don't lie about it. A legal lie is usally a pretty stringent definition. The websites probably do not imply official astronomical use, although many may infer a connection. Any lawsuit from a disgruntled customer might have standing in court, but I seriously doubt a ruling in that plaintiff's favor.

dgruss23
2003-Aug-13, 01:34 PM
Jpax2003 wrote: Someone can sell crap if the market wants crap, as long as they don't lie about it. A legal lie is usally a pretty stringent definition. The websites probably do not imply official astronomical use, although many may infer a connection. Any lawsuit from a disgruntled customer might have standing in court, but I seriously doubt a ruling in that plaintiff's favor.

That is one of the most important points in this discussion. It has been established that no overt false advertising has occurred. It has been established that if you call the Star Registry, they will not lie or mislead you and are upfront about the difficulties of actually locating the stars and the fact that the naming is a novelty gift not recognized by professional astronomers. Anybody who thinks otherwise on these two points has made an incorrect inference or more accurately "jumped to conclusions" and that is the fault of the consumer.

I have not previously said and let me say here. These star naming gifts are STUPID. But that is my biased view as a person who loves science. The people who buy and receive these star names must not think so or the company would be out of business. As Jpax2003 says - if there is a market for this stuff it will sell.

kilopi
2003-Aug-13, 02:06 PM
I have not previously said and let me say here. These star naming gifts are STUPID. But that is my biased view as a person who loves science. The people who buy and receive these star names must not think so or the company would be out of business.
If they were truly "upfront" about this, they would be out of business, so I disagree that they are upfront. Just because they answered questions honestly doesn't mean that they haven't hidden something.

An example. You go to buy a car, and you ask the salesman if the car had ever been in a major accident, and he admits it has. He's honest. However, if the next customer comes in and buys it without asking the question, and the salesperson doesn't inform them, in some places the salesperson would be breaking the law. In that case the salesperson didn't lie to the customer, they just didn't tell the truth, as is required by law.

Whether the ISR will ever cross the line far enough to make their activities illegal is debatable. That's why we're debating it. Some people think they've already crossed that line, some think they never will. Neither side is wrong--unless they accuse the other side of being wrong.

TriangleMan
2003-Aug-13, 03:04 PM
A legal lie is usally a pretty stringent definition. The websites probably do not imply official astronomical use, although many may infer a connection. Any lawsuit from a disgruntled customer might have standing in court, but I seriously doubt a ruling in that plaintiff's favor.

For something like the ISR, sure. Small value consumer-claims aren't even worth the time to pursue them in court (who is going to go after ISR for a $50 refund?) and are not a big concern of most governments. But in the US the line between imply and infer is getting moved around, at least in regards to large money items such as investments. The disclosure required these days for publicly-traded companies is enormous and making a large business deal using a lot of inference in your proposal will definately land you in court if the earnings go south. The business community does not like "I didn't tell you because you didn't ask" approaches to disclosure.

While I don't think that ISR is doing anything illegal one has to ask why they pointed out the Swiss Bank vault and (used to say?) that the book was registered at the Library of Congress. To give an unsophisticated reader the impression of its officiality? Why disclose details like that and not something more significant like "the astronomical community will not use your name"?

dgruss23
2003-Aug-14, 01:13 AM
It seems there is general agreement that the biggest problem with what they are doing is they have not put on their website that they are not recognized by astronomers.

Jpax2003
2003-Aug-14, 01:48 AM
If they were truly "upfront" about this, they would be out of business, so I disagree that they are upfront. Just because they answered questions honestly doesn't mean that they haven't hidden something.
Not Necessarily. People will spend money for the strangest things even when they know it's worthless. It's my understanding that parents can pay a company to register their child in a "Who's Who" book. Perhaps this is similar. Even if the child needs to meet elegibility requirements for inclusion, it's still a commercial effort and not an official documentation. When I was in High School, I was a State Scholar which is an official recognition with documentation.I don't mean to brag, but it seems an apt analogy.


An example. You go to buy a car, and you ask the salesman if the car had ever been in a major accident, and he admits it has. He's honest. However, if the next customer comes in and buys it without asking the question, and the salesperson doesn't inform them, in some places the salesperson would be breaking the law. In that case the salesperson didn't lie to the customer, they just didn't tell the truth, as is required by law.
I used to sell cars and you're right. In Illinois, it is my understanding that the seller is not required to disclose information. However, they are not allowed to lie either. The last car I purchased had been in an accident prior. It was obvious when you saw the over-spray and other signs. I asked him flat out and he looked me straight in the eye and declared "I don't know." Good, he didn't lie to me. Better yet, the bank checked the VIN, got the vehicle history, and made them drop the price a few grand. Always check the VIN if you plan to buy a used car. [This is not legal advice, but good common sense.]


For something like the ISR, sure. Small value consumer-claims aren't even worth the time to pursue them in court (who is going to go after ISR for a $50 refund?) and are not a big concern of most governments. But in the US the line between imply and infer is getting moved around, at least in regards to large money items such as investments. The disclosure required these days for publicly-traded companies is enormous and making a large business deal using a lot of inference in your proposal will definately land you in court if the earnings go south. The business community does not like "I didn't tell you because you didn't ask" approaches to disclosure.
Yes, I doubt the star name registry companies will be targeted for suit. However, the points you just raised might apply to lunar land grab companies. Maybe not for a $20 acre... But perhaps the hotel chains that drop tens of thousands might eventually move to litigation.


While I don't think that ISR is doing anything illegal one has to ask why they pointed out the Swiss Bank vault and (used to say?) that the book was registered at the Library of Congress. To give an unsophisticated reader the impression of its officiality? Why disclose details like that and not something more significant like "the astronomical community will not use your name"?Perhaps they don't want people to know that. We are all guilty of omitting embarassing details. Besides, they probably want to sell the book so that any person could take it to an astronomer to look it up using the catalog numbers assigned to it. Maybe, some enterprising astronomer will start charging people to see their star. Maybe people will get re-interested in science and space and decide to support NASA and we could all go to the stars and, and, whew... better stop dreaming.


It seems there is general agreement that the biggest problem with what they are doing is they have not put on their website that they are not recognized by astronomers.
I heard that Phil Plait does have a star named after him. Would that constitute recognition?

dgruss23
2003-Aug-14, 02:37 AM
Jpax2003 wrote: I heard that Phil Plait does have a star named after him. Would that constitute recognition?

Did a professional astronomer buy the star name for Phil? Whether that is the case or not, I would say "no". By "recognize" I meant for research purposes. We have a range of opinion here and I expect that there might be a minority of Professional astronomers that have no problem with the star registry. But certainly that minority does not represent a formal recognition.

Any professional astronomers that have purchased star names obviously grasp that the whole thing is a harmless novelty.

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-14, 03:03 AM
Jpax2003 wrote: I heard that Phil Plait does have a star named after him. Would that constitute recognition?

Did a professional astronomer buy the star name for Phil? Whether that is the case or not, I would say "no". By "recognize" I meant for research purposes. We have a range of opinion here and I expect that there might be a minority of Professional astronomers that have no problem with the star registry. But certainly that minority does not represent a formal recognition.

Any professional astronomers that have purchased star names obviously grasp that the whole thing is a harmless novelty.

IIRC, I think in his book the BA says that it was bought for him by his brother? cousin? May be wrong on that, but I don't believe it was from a professional astronomer.

TriangleMan
2003-Aug-14, 11:04 AM
. I heard that Phil Plait does have a star named after him. Would that constitute recognition?

IIRC, in his book Bad Astronomy Phil did not buy the star name himself - it was a gift. He describes this in his chapter which criticizes star naming companies.

AGN Fuel
2003-Aug-14, 11:37 AM
Just got home & took my well-worn copy of B.A. from the bookcase (I know - I should have a copy at work too..... [-X !)

BA says it was a gift from his brothers for his birthday.

kilopi
2003-Aug-14, 12:32 PM
I heard that Phil Plait does have a star named after him. Would that constitute recognition?
A few posts back, in this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=127677#127677). You said it was cool.

BigJim
2003-Sep-02, 12:28 AM
I really hate these people. Every time I turn on the radio now:

Buy a star from the Star Registry now! Only $48 and we'll sell you something which we do not own and do not have the right to sell you! It's completely illegimate, and best of all, we make a huge profit!

I really hate those guys. The BA had a good treatment of them in his book.

[quote="The thieves"]Name a Star ™ is the gift that will be remembered each glance at the stars SM. Name a star for someone has never been easier then at Name a Star ™ is the original star name service since 1978[quote]

I've never seen so many trademarks in one paragraph.

Even Oprah Winfrey (http://www.oprah.com/tows/pastshows/tows_1999/tows_past_19991022.jhtml) is getting into the act.

redrefractor
2003-Sep-02, 10:29 AM
Does SAO17287373--whatever care what we call it?

Does Pluto give a darn about whether it's a planetoid or planet?

People spend billions of dollars on gibberish every year. Does it matter that they add an iota to the background noise by naming a star after aunt gracie's late cat? Is anyone really hurt by this tiny offense to the cosmos?

redrefractor

kilopi
2003-Sep-02, 11:29 AM
People spend billions of dollars on gibberish every year. Does it matter that they add an iota to the background noise by naming a star after aunt gracie's late cat? Is anyone really hurt by this tiny offense to the cosmos?
No, of course not, and we can prove it easily. Just send me $90. When I get it, I'll verify that you sent it, and you can verify that it didn't hurt a bit.

SeanF
2003-Sep-02, 01:21 PM
Does Pluto give a darn about whether it's a planetoid or planet?

Heck, yes! (http://www.brunching.com/morepluto.html)

ToSeek
2003-Sep-15, 05:15 PM
Space.com takes on the "star namers." (http://www.space.com/spacewatch/mystery_monday_030915.html)

TriangleMan
2003-Oct-14, 11:44 AM
I just found a site where you can name entire galaxies (http://www.galaxiesrus.com/). Why settle for a measly old star? It even says you're entitled to call yourself something like "Galactic Emperor" and have the title as part of your name. :lol:

All this for the low-low price of $19.99. :P

NASA Fan
2003-Oct-14, 12:53 PM
Uh-Uh. Better not let Humphry see that, or he will no longer settle for being ruler of the world, he will want to be ruler of an entire galaxy.

Someone, quick break into his computer, and do whatever it takes to hide this thread from his view.

twinklingdots
2004-Apr-17, 02:01 AM
Looks like it's been a while since the last post of this subject, but the issue continues.

I don't think that pretending to point out the star supposedly named for her dead son was wrong.

We will be having a local public star party next weekend. I plan on using the double star Cor Coroli, named after Charles 1, as a way of telling people about how astro objects are really named and that star names from any private company are not recognized.

If someone, like that mother were to ask me about registering a star for a loved one, I would tell them to save their money. Better to just pick out any naked-eye star that caught their fancy, circumpolar may be best for year-round viewing, and think of the loved one whenever they look upon it. (And it's free.)

tracer
2004-Apr-20, 02:20 PM
I don't think that pretending to point out the star supposedly named for her dead son was wrong.
I, however, think it was wrong -- terribly wrong -- not to then turn around and sell her some prime real estate in Brooklyn with a bridge on it. ;)


Incidentally, this last Valentine's Day, I received spam from yet another star-registering company, the "Universal Star Council" (at yourstar.com). At least these people seem to have a tiny bit of integrity, because hidden away on their FAQ page is the following:

"Universal Star Council's products are intended for the sole purpose as a unique 'novelty' gift one can share with their friends and family. Only the International Astronomical Union has the authority to assign names to stars, but they only recognize stars by assigning them numbers. ... Universal Star Council also acknowledges the fact there may be people who do not officially recognize the names they assign to the stars (Professional astronomers will always prefer to use a star's IAU number vs. 'Mom's Star'). We have no control over any other entity operating a similar service or the business of any scientific, governmental or other body."

Nevertheless, their $89.95 "Platinum package" is way overpriced, in my not-so-humble opinion.