FAQ

Name A Star Live is brought to you by Space Services, Inc.— the world leader in public participation space missions. Before you pick your star's name we thought you should know a few things about star naming. If you're buying a star you'll want to check this FAQ out first!

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Frequently asked questions

About Name A Star Live

What is Name A Star Live?

Name A Star Live is an aerospace company that provides a unique name-a-star product:

  • You name a star.
  • We provide you with a personalized certificate bearing the name of your star.
  • We launch your star name into Earth orbit on board a rocket carrying a scientific or commercial satellite. After the launch we e-mail you a Launch Certificate, certifying your participation in the mission.
  • In short, we make star naming REAL!

Can I arrange for a personalized anniversary, graduation, birthday or memorial gift?

Yes: Many of our customers name stars as unique anniversary, graduation birthday, memorial, Bar Mitzvah, or employee recognition gifts. You personalize the gift by naming the star and by including a brief personal message on the Star Certificate.

Do people name stars for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or Father's Day?

Yes: Name A Star Live is a popular holiday gift.

Can I really name a star after a person? Can I buy a star? Will my star name be officially recognized?

Clearly, you cannot buy a star. The stars belong to all of us or none of us, whichever you prefer, and they are not for sale. Naming a star is a symbolic gift idea which obviously does not involve any legal title/ownership. Our register is not used by the scientific community although it is a perfectly valid register. Scientists refer to stars only by their astronomical coordinates, catalog number, or in a few cases by commonly-used names, such as "Polaris," the North Star. In referring to and listing stars by name — the name you choose — we have created a symbolic and personal listing rather than one that is astronomically significant.

What is a gift set?

A "Gift Set" is the mechanism you use to name a star. We have several different gift sets to choose from that fit your interests and budget. We offer free delivery via Priority Mail within the United States. Our Instant Gift Set is delivered by e-mail immediately upon purchase. We also offer express delivery (for an additional fee).

Can you provide an example of a star name and message?

When you buy a star through our online shopping cart you will be asked to provide a name for your star, to designate for whom the star is named, to write a message, etc. People usually name stars using the gift recipient's first name, full name, or nickname -- how you name the star is completely up to you. For example, you might name a star "William," "William Smith," or "Bill." Here's a full example:

Star Certificate
Star Certificate
Click to enlarge

Star Name Registration

Choose Star Name: (max 25 char.): Alice
Registration Date: (m/d/yyyy): 3/2/2010
In Honor Of: (max 30 char.): Our 25th Anniversary
Constellation: Andromeda

Message to recipient

To: Alice
Message: (max 200 char. including spaces): No matter what, we will always be under one sky together. Thanks for the best 25 years of my life. I look forward to many more. Happy Silver Anniversary. I love you ALWAYS and FOREVER.
From: Tom

Click here for some more examples of star messages.

What are constellations? Can I choose the constellation for my star?

Just as a state or province clearly specifiies a particular area of a nation, a constellation clearly specifies a particular area of the night sky. You can choose which constellation in which your star is located from the following list: Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Orion, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Taurus, Ursa Major and Virgo.

What constellations can I see from my location on Earth?

Our World Constellation Guide shows which Name A Star Live constellations you can see and what time of the year you can see them.

How can I find my star in the night sky?

With your Star Chart, Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software, and/or a planisphere constellation finder (all available from Name A Star Live), you can easily find the general location of your star in the night sky. First, using Virtual Planetarium and/or a planisphere, find your star's constellation in the night sky. (Note that different constellations are visible at different times of the year, and that some constellations are visible from some parts of the world, but not from others: See our World Constellation Guide.) Once you locate your constellation, use your Star Chart to find your star's position relative to the very brightest stars in your constellation.

Only a relative handful of stars are visible to the naked eye. The stars in our register are outside naked eye visibility. Therefore, to view the star you will need a telescope. You might consider approaching a local planetarium or astronomy club to ask for their expert assistance.

Also, check out our blog for information on interesting things you can see in the night sky this month.

How can I find my star in Google Earth?

Follow these steps to find your star in Google Earth:

  1. Download the Google Earth software to your computer.
  2. Once you open the software you'll see a row of icons in the toolbar at the top of the screen. Click on the icon that looks like the planet Saturn.
  3. From the drop-down menu, choose "Sky."
  4. You should see some stars and constellation names appear on your computer screen.
  5. Toward the upper, left-hand corner of your screen you should see a "Search" box.
  6. Now you'll need to enter the astronomical coordinates of your star, specifically, the star's "Right Ascension" and "Declination," which you'll find on your Name A Star Live Star Certificate.
  7. You'll need to convert the Right Ascension (RA) and Declination (DEC) values from your Star Certificate into a format Google Earth can understand. This is really easy to do! Here's an example:
    • Suppose your star has Right Ascension 5h 8m 39s and Declination 3° 48' 33".
    • Then convert that format into 5:8:39,3:48:33
    • Note that there are no spaces between any of the numbers or other characters.
    • Also note that you must list the Right Ascension value first, followed by the Declination value.
    • Now, just enter 5:8:39,3:48:33 into the "Search" box and click on the "Search" button (or just hit "Enter" on your keyboard).
    • Google Earth will then zero in on your star.
  8. Note that some stars are not visible in Google Earth. In this case, Google Earth will zero in on a black area of space.

What is a binary star?

Binary stars (a "binary star system") are two stars that are bound together by gravity, and orbit their common center of mass. Think of them as two stars that "orbit one another in space." They are often so close to each other that they appear as only one star when viewed through even the most powerful telescopes.

While astronomers estimate that over half of all stars are binary star systems, only a relative handful of stars have actually been confirmed as being binaries, making confirmed binary stars rare.

Can I pick a particular star, or otherwise have my star meet some special astronomical requirement?

Yes, you can pick a particular star or specify that your star meet some special astronomical requirement (such as stellar magnitude), but customization fees or other surcharge fees will apply. Please contact us for details and to make arrangements.

What if I live in the southern hemisphere?

We ship all around the world, including the southern hemisphere. We have a special Web page for our friends in Australia and New Zealand. If you live elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, be sure to check out our world constellation guide to pick a constellation (area of the night sky) that you can see from your location.

What are star catalogs?

Star catalogs are lists of stars. Over the centuries, astronomers have devised various different star catalogs/listings. They refer to stars by catalog numbers, astronomical coordinates, or in a few cases by commonly-used names, such as "Polaris" -- the North Star. Our register refers to stars by your chosen name, and is thus personal rather than scientific.

Are stars named more than once in your database?

A star is named only once in our database. The name that you have chosen will be included in our database and launched into space as part of our Earth-orbiting "Celestial Archive." Click here to see the schedule for our next launch.

Can the star I've named be named in another company's database?

No one (or everyone) owns the stars — choose your viewpoint. There are over a hundred different scientific registers that catalog stars. Each refers to stars independently. A non-scientific database of star names is no different. Even though there are millions of stars, a star in any company's register/database could be referred to by another name in another company's register/database.

What do you launch, and how do you launch it?

We're an aerospace company that got into the name-a-star business: We take the star names and the personal messages on our customers' Star Certificates, save that data onto a computer chip, and launch the chip into space. We fly our "Celestial Archive" on board rockets launched from a variety of locations around the world.

Where do the spacecraft go?

The spacecraft are launched on orbital and suborbital missions. Orbital missions fly around the Earth. Suborbital missions fly briefly into space and return to Earth. We also have plans to fly to the Moon and into deep space.

When and where is the next launch?

Click here for information on upcoming launches.

Do your spacecraft create orbital debris pollution?

Space Services' spacecraft are carefully designed so as not to create orbital debris. Our Earth-orbiting spacecraft stay permanently attached to rocket stages that orbit until they harmlessly re-enter and are completely consumed by Earth’s atmosphere. Of course, suborbital flights are designed to fly briefly in space and return to Earth intact.

For missions which are launched aboard a commercially purchased launcher, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration issues a license which verifies that the Space Services payload does not contribute to orbital debris. For missions not subject to FAA approval, Space Services voluntarily follows the same guidelines which prevent orbital pollution from its missions.

How long will Earth-orbiting Space Services spacecraft stay in Earth orbit?

The length of orbital stay depends on the final altitude of the primary satellite launched on the mission. Space Services' spacecraft is a “secondary payload” aboard each mission. For previous spaceflights conducted by the Space Services team the orbital life span ranged from five weeks to several hundred years.

How often do you launch?

We launch about once or twice a year, although we expect to launch more frequently in the near future.

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