de Vos: Star wars
The Friday Report
Some years back I wrote about homesteading the moon. Both readers showered the column with critical acclaim, praising it as “overly long” and “my parakeet died of boredom”. Well, Lunar Embassy announced that they just sold their 6 millionth lunar lot. And before you can even call that a joke, their website declares in bold-face type that it is not.
But the moon’s just moonish-colored rocks and dirt, right? Maybe green cheese? Who cares? It just doesn’t pop with the brilliance of a star.
Gifting someone a star might be viewed as extravagant. Others might see it as grandpa’s final step before The Home. But here’s a little-known tidbit that should shut up the critics: Nicole Kidman bought a star that she named “Forever Tom”. They’re divorced now, but the location is still secret to protect their privacy. Johnny Depp owns one too.
They bought them from International Star Registry, based originally out of the third star on the right but recently landed in Illinois. Since their founding in 1979, ISR has sold over a million stars at an average of 50 bucks. Seriously, that’s ridiculously cheap for a whole star, even considering there are about 100 billion stars in this galaxy alone. It’ll be a long time before the neighborhood gets crowded.
To prove it’s yours, you get a 12-by-16 inch parchment informing the world that this is your star and you’ve named it after your pet poodle. Or whatever.
You also get a map with your star hand-circled in red and guiding arrows to help get your asteroid home. Stars that are visible year-round from the northern hemisphere cost extra, but worth it, as you step out to the patio anytime, well, any nighttime, to gaze upwards at your next home.
But wait! Other than the parchment it’s printed on, how do you know you’ve purchased a respectable star from a reputable company? After all, there’s dozens out there. You can even buy one on Amazon, no kidding.
Star-Registration.com claims superiority over ISR because their certificates are laminated, guaranteeing bright, indelible colors that will last a lifetime. S-R.com also provides a chart to “effortlessly orient yourself and pinpoint your star within seconds”. Further, your star will be registered with a “naming number” allowing you to reprint your record should it ever be lost, stolen or claimed by foreign agents.
Binary stars cost a little more but having two names on the parchment makes the perfect wedding or anniversary gift.
Name-A-Star-Live offers not just stars, but accessories like the $120 Twilight Sea Turtle that projects three miscellaneous constellations on the ceiling. In a token toss to ecology, the turtle’s shell lights up to show five endangered fish. NASL has what the others don’t: for an additional $20, your authentic parchment comes clutched in the arms of a 6” cuddly Star Bear. Guaranteed delivery by Valentine’s Day, if you act now!
These star peddlers sometimes stick in real astronomers’ craws. The International Astronomical Union (IAU), founded in 1919, coordinates the activities of almost 100 nations and over 12,000 astronomers, mostly Ph.D.’s and beyond.
The IAU’s naming authority is accepted world-wide. They do it rarely and never with stars. But for a few Arabic-named stars from around the tenth century, stars are issued numbers, but unlike their parchment counterparts, IAU stars can actually be found.
The IAU is relaxed about these ersatz competitors, saying that charlatans have existed for centuries and it’s not their job to stop them. They simply try to warn the public and guard their name and scientific reputation, but mostly their field is looking up.
Want one? Print your own. Here’s a model: http://www.stardeed.com/certificate.gif
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