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Two things NOT to buy for Christmas…

So, here we are again… Hallowe’en. And you know what that means, don’t you? Yes, that’s right – Christmas is only TWO WHOLE ****** MONTHS AWAY!!!!! So, that means three things. Firstly, you can’t move in the shops without tripping over Christmas displays (and again, well done Oxfam Kendal for selling your first Christmas cards in SEPTEMBER, you nutters…). Secondly, it’s impossible to turn on the TV without seeing a Christmassy ad for DFS sofas or Argos. And, lastly, I’m getting emails and phone calls from people wanting advice on “spacey” presents to buy their loved ones for Christmas. That means telling them things they are not expecting, or wanting, to hear. Namely, do not, Do Not, DO NOT buy your son/daughter/wife/husband/mother/father either of the following:

A star.

Or a telescope.

Why?

Let me explain. Hopefully I’ll save someone reading this a lot of frustration and upset. I’ll definitely save them some money…

Right, let’s look at the whole “star naming” thing first.

There are now LOTS of companies that offer to give a star in the sky the name of your choosing – for a price, of course. Google “Name a star” or “star naming” and you’ll find that there are a gazillion of them online, and you can even buy “gift packs” from Argos, Boots and other shops. If you don’t know how they work, basically for your money you get to name the star, a certificate, a chart showing the location of your star and – well, that’s it basically. The impression they give, these companies, is that you then exclusively “own” the star, and that it will be known by that name forever.

This is, of course, not correct.

Why? Listen very carefully, I shall say zees only once.

If you “buy a star”, the only place, the only place the star will bear your chosen name is in that company’s register, or on its database. No astronomers will ever refer to it by that name. No astronomy magazine’s star charts will ever give it that name. No observatory anywhere in the world will ever recognise or use that name.

I should make it absolutely clear here that it’s not illegal, or a “con” in the legal sense of the word. The companies themselves actually admit that it’s not “official”. If you take a look at the FAQ on the website of one of the most popular star naming companies you’ll see they’re quite open about it: ( http://www.starregistry.com/faq.cfm ) But the general marketing of the product does give the impression that for your £15 or £20 or whatever you’re paying, you are naming a star in the sky and that star will bear that name for ever, and future generations will call it by that name, thus immortalising your son/daughter/dog/goldfish. That’s just not true.

How popular is this? Well, every year many people unwittingly fall for it, because a) most people are very ignorant about the night sky and the world of astronomy, b) the packages are very glossy and the advertising blurb very convincing, and c) on the face of it it seems like a great idea, a lovely gesture, to name a star after a loved one. I mean, what could be more romantic or sentimental, than to name a twinkling star after your wife, husband, mother, father, sweetheart or newborn child?

Well, the problem – apart from the fact that these companies don’t actually have any right to name stars!! – is that most of the stars up for naming are all too faint to be seen with the naked eye, so would need a telescope to see them, and they’re often in the opposite celestial hemisphere to the purchaser’s home. So, if you “buy” a star you could very well end up with a star that you’d have to travel to the other side of the world to see, and would need a telescope to see it with once you got there…

Again, it has to be said that many of the companies actually admit all this. But the people to whom these star names are “sold” aren’t going to be looking at or for small print or FAQs; they’re looking, often, for a way to cherish and preserve the memory of a loved one, dead or alive, and, like most consumers, believe what they’re told in the big bold colourful lettering, not in the small print. And that is why I dont like this.

People have told me “It’s just a bit of fun, stop taking it so seriously!” and okay, yes, maybe that’s true, but on the other hand they haven’t seen the look on a person’s face when they’ve learned that the star they thought they’d named after a deceased loved one or a beloved fiance or wife isn’t actually called that after all. I could lie to them, but that would be unfair, and cruel, I think. They deserve to know the truth, and the truth is they’ve been taken advantage of by people who are out to make money out of their grief or their love, and that’s wrong, I think.

In theory, “star naming” is harmless, and yes, in some cases it might lead to some people following up their purchase and getting more seriously into real astronomy, but these are the exceptions. I think the whole star naming thing is wrong, I just do. I feel very strongly about, I don’t mind admitting. Why? Because I am tired of having to disappoint and upset people who come to me as star parties and astronomy meetings, asking me if I can help find the star they “named” after their deceased mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, fiance, wife, husband, grandmother, grandfather or pet. These people “buy” stars in good faith, thinking, genuinely, that a way out of – or to at least ease – their grief is to buy a star for their dead loved one, thus immortalising them and preserving their memory. They are led to believe by the advertising blurb that “their star ” will be on view in the sky for all to see… so they come up to me at a star party, ask me to point out the star they bought, or, if it’s cloudy, point it out to them on a star chart or in an atlas. And I feel sick to my stomach when I have to tell them that the star they “bought” and “named” only bears that name in that company’s star registry database, and that you need a telescope to see it. They, in turn, are always disappointed, often gutted, occasionally enraged. And instead of making them interested in astronomy, the whole experience makes them turn AWAY from astronomy, and anything to do with stars and planets and space, because they’ve been taken advantage of, and made to feel foolish.

So, no, I’m sorry, but I refuse to give any kind of support to this practice, and will do anything and everything I can suggestthe people I come into contact with – at my astronomical society’s star parties, at the Outreach talks I give, and at other events – shouldn’t buy a star.

And if you’re reading this thinking “Oh stop over-reacting!” then the way out is at the top of the screen on the right there, that red box with an “X” in it. This is my blog, and this is how I feel.

Someone once suggested to me that I should actually try and show people the star they have “bought”, in the hope of opening their eyes to the real beauty of the heavens. Hmmm. Let me think…  Should I take the star chart off them, swing my humble 4.5″ reflector around to find their star (if it’s even in the northern hemisphere), centre it and then turn to the star buyers and say: “Look into this eyepiece… see that star? That’s the one you paid £20 for but DON’T own and ISN’T named after your mother… cool huh?”

I don’t think so. Wound… salt… you know? (and by the way I wouldn’t ever dream of saying those words to them anyway, that would be cruel, and they’ve been hurt enough already. I always let people down slowly and gently.)

So, no. I don’t – and won’t – show people “their star”, for two reasons. Firstly, I’d be collaborating with the star-naming companies, giving them tacit support for their ‘product’. By focussing my ‘scope on that star I’d be saying, effectively, “Here you go, this is the star you bought…”. Secondly, I don’t need to show those people “their” star to get them interested in real astronomy. If they’ve hung around after being told – kindly, and gently, but truthfully – that they’be been conned, I’ll show them Saturn’s rings shining like glowing hoops around the planet and tell them that they used to be a moon before it was shattered in a cataclysmic collision… I’ll show them the lavendar and grey whirls and whorls of the Orion Nebula and tell them there are stars being born in there… I’ll show them the breath-on-glass fog of M31 and tell them that they’re looking at a haze of stars 2 million light years away… I’ll show them the salt and pepper stars of M15 and tell them that if they lived on a world whipping around one of those suns their night sky would be ablaze with beacons of light… and I’ll tell them to look up, at the sky above them, and tell them that each of the stars twinkling there is a sun, a distant sun, and that if there are aliens “out there” then our sun is just a star twinkling in their sky after their own sun has set.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never ridicule or make the victims of star-naming scams feel bad. I don’t jump up and down, pointing at them and laughing “haha! suckers!!” in the middle of a busy star party when they tell me what’s happened. I go to great lengths to explain to them that although what they did was a wonderful, loving gesture, it wasn’t what they were thinking, or indeed paid for. They’re victims of clever salespeople, that’s all.

Let’s look at this from a different angle. If someone came up to you in the street this afternoon and offered to sell you a brick in the Great Wall of China, or a rivet in the Golden Gate Bridge, or one of the eyes, nostrils or ears of one of the faces carved into Mount Rushmore, would you be tempted? No. You’d tell them to take a hike – or use a rather more to-the-point bit of Anglo-Saxon language! Now, would you be tempted to buy one of those things for a friend or relation or loved one, thinking they might then develop an interest in Oriental history, civil engineering or sculpting? No, of course you wouldn’t! The whole star naming thing is no different. It’s a rip-off, aimed at people with good hearts, often aching hearts, who don’t know better, and are easy prey.

When I tell people the truth about star naming, sure, some are angry at me for “lying”, or shattering their illusion. Some tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about because, after all, they have a Certificate to prove the star is theirs. But most of them are very grateful that I’ve been honest with them, because it means they won’t go on to recommend the idea to others. So although I don’t ridicule them, I won’t lie to them through silence, because if I didn’t say something then they could tell one of their friends about their “gift” and ker-ching, that’s another $50 or £25 in the bank account of a businessman somewhere.

If you are reading this and thinking “Well, there’s no harm in it, surely!” then think of it this way. If you were in a shop and you saw a young couple standing beside a display selling the naming rights to blades of grass in a field for $50, and you overheard them discussing what a lovely way it would be to immortalise the name of their dead baby, would you want to stop them? If you were walking out of a hospital and saw an elderly couple crying in a corner, mourning the death of their young son or daughter, telling a nurse how they were going to pay £25 to have a stone on a beach named after them, would you be able to just walk on by?

Now, with that in mind, if you were in a friend’s house tonight, when they took the phone call telling them their son or daughter had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and you saw a leaflet for a star naming company on their table would you let it sit there or would you scrunch it up and toss it in the bin? Because that will already have happened, god knows how many times, and will probably have happened again several times more while you’ve been reading this. Are you okay with that? Really?

So, no, I can’t do it, I just can’t.

Let me make it perfectly clear – the people who work for these companies aren’t monsters, or crooks, or bad people, I’m sure. They’re just making a living, and we all have to eat, right? And selling star names isn’t illegal. Anyone reading this blog could set up their own company to do exactly the same thing. Go ahead, try it. Each to their own. But the product is a non-product. They’re essentially selling fresh air. They are taking money for a service that doesn’t exist, for an end product that doesn’t exist, and leading people to believe they’ve Done A Good Thing. You must decide if you want to support that – or tolerate it – or not. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal choice.

One last thing. If you’re reading this thinking “What a spoil sport!” or “What a grumpy git!” then put “star registry” into Google, select “Images”, and see what comes back. You’ll see lots of thumbnails of very fancy-looking certificates. Click on one of them and you’ll probably be taken to a website set up by someone, or a group of people, in memory of someone who’s died, and who they “bought” a star for.  The first one I clicked on was a website dedicated to the memory of a baby that had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, just 6 months after birth, leaving the family understandably grief-stricken. Thinking they were doing a good thing, being loving and respectful, they paid to have a star named after their baby, and were clearly delighted with the certificate when it came back, believing they had done something to preserve the name, and memory, of their deceased child forever.

The money that cost them could have been spent on a proper memorial for the grave, or for investing in a foundation, or just a really beautiful framed photograph for their wall. It paid for… a piece of paper, the printer ink used to pring out the fancy certificate on it, and the postage to get it to them.

It paid for stationery supplies, not a star.

So, if you were thinking about “Buying a star” for someone this Christmas, it’s entirely up to you. It’s your money, and if it’s something you want to do to make someone feel good, or if you think it will help them through a bad time, it’s entirely up to you. Just be aware of the truth of the situation, ok? My personal recommendation would be – don’t. Don’t fall for the slick packaging, the fancy words or the romantic imagery. Buy a huge bunch of flowers instead, or a nice photograph.

But hey, if you’re determined to make a grand romantic gesture, then send me £30 and I’ll happily name one of the grains of sand on Arnside beach anything you want. Or one of the bricks in the Great Wall of China. Or one of the blades of grass up at Kendal Castle, or one of the blocks in the Great Pyramid. Because that would be just as official as buying a star name… 🙂

Ok, I’m done! 🙂

Now, what about telescopes?

Every year in the run-up to Christmas I get phone calls, letters and emails from people wanting advice about buying a telescope. Some of them I happily recommend telescopes to, because they tell me they are already “skywatchers” and are wanting to take the next step in the fascinating hobby of amateur atronomy. But very often I am contacted by people who are wanting to jump in at the deep end of stargazing by buying a telescope before they have even learned the constellations, or swept across the Milky Way with binoculars. Maybe they’ve been inspired by a TV program, or a lecture they’ve attended, or maybe they’ve looked up on a gloriously clear night and noticed the beauty of the night sky for the first time. But they have suddenly decided they want to buy a telescope with no prior observing experience whatsoever, so they contact me asking for advice. And, as is the case with the whole star-naming thing, I have to lay my cards out on the table and be honest with them.

So, if you’re thinking of buying a telescope for someone, or yourself, this Christmas, who isn’t already pretty familiar with what can be seen “up there”, this is the advice I give…

Hi (insert name here),

Thanks for your email asking for advice re buying a telescope.  

The advice I’m going to give you will probably not, I’m afraid, be the advice you were looking for or expecting, but trust me, it’s the best advice I can give you, and if you follow it it will save you a) a lot of money, and b) a lot of heartache and disappointment after Christmas.

 Ok. 

Don’t buy a telescope. PLEASE. At least, not yet.

Why?

Because telescopes are really only for people who already have quite a lot of experience of looking at things in the night sky, first with their naked eye and then through binoculars. Really, unless someone, of any age, knows the names and locations of the constellations; how the sky changes from month to month and season to season; when to look for “the interesting stuff” in the sky, etc, a telescope will be no real use to them, because telescopes are essentially used to ‘zoom in’ on things in the sky that are faint and small. So, if you don’t know where those objects are in the first place, you simply won’t find them with a telescope. Buying a telescope for a young child who has just become interested in astronomy but has never looked at the night sky with their own eyes is like buying a £2000 artist’s set for a child who has just become interested in drawing.

And if at this point you’re thinking “Well *I* can show him/her things through it!”, that’s a lovely thought, but it actually means **you’ll** have to spend not weeks but *months* learning the sky yourself before you can do that properly. Of course, if you’re happy and able to do that, great, I’ll happily give you some more advice, but you have to be honest with yourself and ask if you’re willing to get into a whole new hobby for the next x years, because that is what it would mean. It takes a minimum of a year to learn the whole sky properly, because each season has “its own sky”, and there atre no shortcuts. Then there are books, magazines and software to buy. And a telescope worth having will cost you more like £200 than £100. If that’s all ok, then brilliant!

But if it’s not, well, please don’t buy a telescope yet, you’d be wasting your money, to be brutally honest, because this is what would happen. Christmas Day would come, you’d unwrap the telescope and – if the sky was clear that night – you’d manage, possibly after a lot of struggling, to get the telescope aimed at the Moon, and maybe a bright planet. That in itself could be disappointing because cheap telescopes usually have such poor optics that the image would be blurry and distorted, and also because cheap telescopes come with such unstable tripods that they shudder and shake too much to provide a steady view. But even if you managed to get a good one, with a not too bad tripod and decent optics, then you’d have to face the “Right… what next?” question after looking at the Moon, and without knowing the sky you wouldn’t have a clue where to point it next. After a few nights of fruitless searching you’d all get bored, the telescope would go back in the box, stuffed in a cupboard or under a bed, and forgotten about. Your son would be very disillusioned about astronomy and skywatching, too.

As I said, this won’t be what you were expecting or wanting to hear – but I have an alternative idea…

 Get a pair of binoculars instead! 🙂

 If you think about it, a pair of binocs is really just two small telescopes joined together, so they will show your son, and all of you, things in the sky you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. But there are other reasons why binoculars are so good…

* They’re cheap – £30/£40 for a good pair.

* They can be used for non-astronomy things (unlike many “beginner” telescopes, which turn things upside down so are utterly useless for sports, bird-watching, plane-spotting, etc)

* They are easy to use – just point them at something and look! Telescopes need setting up, aligning, collimating, etc etc.

* They are light and easy to hold – telescopes are heavy, cumbersome.

* They are great fun for kids to use.

 A good pair of binoculars will show you the following (after, of course, you’ve learned where to find these things in the sky by checking in magazines, books, websites, etc):

 * Features on and the phases of the Moon

* Jupiter’s 4 largest moons

* Venus as a crescent

* Countless star clusters+, galaxies+ and nebulae+.

 + … and if you don’t know what any of those things are, that shows you have to learn a lot about astronomy before buying a telescope… 🙂

 So, my advice would be:

* Don’t buy a telescope. Not yet, anyway.

* Get a pair of binoculars instead.

* Buy a good “beginners guide to astronomy” book, or borrow one from the library. I can recommend one.

* Start buying a monthly BRITISH astronomy magazine (British best because all the times are in GMT or BST, not the confusing US time zones, although some US features do give UK times too)

* Start learning the sky – it will take a while, so you’ll have to be patient. 🙂

 If you follow that advice, trust me, you’ll avoid a lot of trouble, disappointment and heartache. This is the advice I’ve given to many people before, and the ones who took it have thanked me. The ones who ignored it told me later they wished they’d listened.

I really hope this helps. I’m not trying to burst any bubbles, but the quickest way to destroy your son’s new interest in science and astronomy would be to buy him a telescope that he wouldn’t be able to use.

Any more questions please drop me a line, I’ll be happy to help.

Cheers,

 Stu

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175 Responses

  1. My brother-in-law was recently given a certificate proudly announcing that a star has been named after him and his new wife.

    My heart sank when I heard about it, for exactly the reasons you mention. When I visited him, the certificate was proudly hung on the hall wall, right by the front door, for everyone to see. I started to question him on it, and guessing that I was dubious, he cut me off and announced it was official and legit and in a registry.

    So, I dropped the subject, I couldn’t do it to him. He was so proud of it I just could not tell him the truth. The resulting discussion would have probably spoiled the day anyway, so I have made the decision not to ruin it for him as he is obviously very touched by the gesture.

    I’d love to tell him the truth, that while the gesture is nice, there is absolutely nothing official or real about it, but I think for the sake of a friendship, its not worth it. Maybe one day in the future the opportunity will arise when it won’t be like me stamping on his treasures, but that day is certainly not now.

  2. I like that telescope buying response. I just got an email to our astronomy club from someone wanting to donate a slightly used $99 Celestron that the grandchild hasn’t used. Sadly, again this is a good example of the problem. The kid’s interest in astronomy was probably ruined now too because of this.
    Tom

  3. Hi Stu,

    re: the star naming issue. I bought my Dad a real-life bit of Mars for around £20, as part of his 80th birthday present. Sure, it was a tiny chip from a meteorite, but it WAS real, it’s in his study, and – the space freak that he is – he loves it. How much better than a dubious “certificate” is that?

    And top marks for the binoculars option for Christmas. My (ancient) 10-by-50’s did me well for several years before I got a small reflector. I learned the constellations, wandered the night sky, followed the seasons, and had a whole bunch of fun for 10s less than a cheap reflector – which would have been (surely?!) packed away in newbie frustration.

    Andy

  4. If you have problems with people buying stars, I’m sort of curious about your take on the selling of extra-terrestrial real estate, such as parcels on the Moon, Mars, or elsewhere? What is worse is that these guys are con-artists who are claiming to be actually conveying a title to a hunk of territory, as opposed to most companies who sell the naming of stars only admit to “registering the name with the copyright office” or some other silly practice that claims official government sanctioning of the act.

    I do know of a few places that do allow you to name bricks or stones for “loved ones”, and in this regard I think it is money much better spent as the money usually goes to a worthy charity and often the name is actually engraved on that brick or stone as well. Often this is done with something like a hospital or a public park where tax money wasn’t sufficient to make everything that the neighbors wanted. None the less, I completely agree with our sentiments about buying stars and the futility of it all.

    Sometimes the naming of asteroids, which is something that mere mortals can be involved with and named after more ordinary folks rather than ancient heroes and legends, can get a bit strange and perhaps might be something worthy of note. On the other hand, few are even getting named anymore because so many are being discovered and those which are being discovered are so small as to be insignificant as well. It would be interesting what the IAU would do if one of these groups doing the automated asteroid surveys would, as a fund raiser, start to sell the naming rights to these asteroids that they discovered. I suspect that the names would be rejected even if the current naming conventions don’t explicitly prohibit such a practice in part largely due to the issue of star naming in the first place.

  5. Weelll…I guess this is all about getting something for the person who has everything, yes?! Why do it? Let them buy their own Christmas presents… :< )

  6. I really appreciate this info. I recently lost a loved one and was planning on naming a star after them. They happened to be an astronomy major and knew all that is space, so it seemed fitting. I had no idea that there were several different databases, etc.. and that the name wouldn’t be universally known. How naive of me. Anywho, thank you for the advice and the heads up.

  7. Hi I was thinking purchasing star for loved ones as fitting tribute but after reading your blog realised its wrong to mislead people who not fully understand what they are purchasing Nothing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for helping me to make up my mind not to purchase star
    Thanks !!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. brilliant information – thank you

  9. Interesting, Both of my sons had stars”named” for them, they knew it was not for real, but were still impressed that this had been done, and a cooperating astronomer helped them look at the star, as faint as it was. They still proudly display the chart, and still have an interest in stars !

  10. What a let down! I was given one 10years ago and thought of buying my friend one as whenever I look in the sky or at the wallet card I think of him especially since we are on different continents. I really believed there was a stat called after me! Anyway I still love the stars and wherever I am in the world and look up I know there is a far greater power out there who is shining brightly on me. All my friends who have passed on are shining stars to me and I will find my star one day too. I feel a bit like a child who has just discovered Santa is not real.

  11. Wow, okay. Well years ago I bought my family a gift. A telescope. And that led to each of my kids has taking huge interest in the night sky and science. Glad I din’t read this back then. You need to understand not everyone will have your feelings about things. You state things as fact but in reality it is only your opinion.

    • I was thinking the same. At my 40s, without knowing any constelation and just recognizing the Big Dipper, The Moon, The Sun, Venus, Mars and the Pleiades, I bought an 8″ Dobsonian. I did´n have an astronomy group to attend to nor binoculars. With a freely downloaded program, I started to find the first objects picked almost randomly or just guided by brightest magnitudes. I tried some “now what”s after the moon, some very impressive as the planets. One of those first “now what”s was the Orion Nebula, because I wanted to see a nebula with my own eyes. Completely unprepared for the viewing, I got astonished when I found easily that strong brightness in the (suburban) sky, seeming like a glowing cloud. Many following “what now”s increased that feeling, as when I found M24 😮 . In less that a month, I had observed many objects that were not familiar in the astronomy group that I joined 9 months later, using just a free computer program (Cartes du Ciel). Knowing the constellations took me 2 more years.

      • P.D. Now I own a 16″ dob and some Naglers and Ethos, and tried a pair of big astronomical binoculars (a big failure) to finally, in the end, find a good tiny 9×63 pair that stood to the promise of being an astronomical tool of some modest usefulness. For me, it was harder to find a good pair of binos that a good telescope (Internet research included for both).

    • The FACT that these “named stars” are not in any official astronomy database makes them erroneous at best. That is not his opinion, it IS a fact. If you want to live in a world of disillusion and believe the claims of these “star salesman” then you do that. The rest of us (esp scientists) have no desire to disillusion ourselves with flowery bull****.

      He may be a bit overzealous in his writing but the reality is that when you “buy” a star it is not officially recognized by the name you gave it. FACT! If you want to lie to your family and loved ones and say “I bought you a star and it’s officially named after you”. Go right ahead and lie to them.

  12. Great information on this subject. I purchased a star from http://www.star-registry.co.uk about a year ago and was happy to give the gift but now after reading this i am unsure. Still a great gift idea but a little misleading.

  13. Thank you for your blog my husband passed away in February 2014 I have no family or friends where I live we were married 20 years I have been feeling hopelessly lost and thought naming a star in the heavens would make me feel better I will not do it I will look up into the star filled sky and pick a bright star and in my mind that will he his star again thank you for stopping from making a horrible mistake sad thing is that they pray on the weak and grieving and there is no way to stop them in my mind my husband will always be a star in the heavens

    • Cheri, my husband passed away in May 2014….likevyounI have no family or friends. I dontbknowvif it’s possible but if you want to get in touch with me we could email….I am Alex Bee on Facebook, so if you see this, and would like to, leave me a message and I’ll send my email. Thinking of you….my lovely man would have been 81 today so it’s a very tough day for me.

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  15. I really think instead of (supposedly) buying someone a star or buying the naming rights, buying them a fragment of a meteorite is a better idea… there is atleast a tangible product here that has infact come from outerspace.

    I’m not the most sensitive person so can’t really comment, but surely there would be a way to buy someone a piece of a meteorite as a memorial for a certain occasion? I don’t know, but like the frament could be named after the person you wish to honour?

  16. You saved me the money i was just going to waste on this crap. Thks !

  17. I brought a star for my girlfriend yesterday for £10. I have a degree in cosmology and was fully aware what the purchase fully meant but for me it was more about the act and not about I’m getting a star named after my girlfriend. We have a long running thing where she always says she wants her own star. we both knew what I was buying, did it make it any less special, no. It didn’t because it was meaning in the act of doing something like that. I really believe it depends on what you believe you are getting, I knew what it meant when I brought it. She is Polish and I got it for her for her name day. I thought it was a little fitting to “name a star” on her name day. I don’t feel robbed or cheated because I knew exactly how meaningless the purchase is for naming a star but it wasn’t meaningless to me or her because it was just a small gift built on the back of a long running conversation. If I could name a star properly then I would but this was just a nice way to show her I care.

    • I agree. My dad died recently and his 4 year old great grandson was told he had gone to live in the stars. Buying a star means we start a conversation with the next generation about stars, research, and let’s face it, the world needs a bit more romance! Knowing I don’t own it doesn’t make any difference.

  18. omg soooo funny and true…what was i thinking!!! you saved xmas. lolol

  19. And to add to Rob’s point – What about doing this “In loving memory” of someone who just dies during the holiday period? I imagine, unlike you, this would offer some healing while someone mourns. Man has looked to the sky for answers for 50,000 years, your post is certainly not worthy of praise, it is visceral, short-sighted, snarky, and well….I did take you wrong because you are. Your post is reads like you like to beat people up and then hug them afterwards and say it was for your own good. I almost feel bad you wasted your time writing this…not everyone buys in Mr. Barnum’s bag of tricks…..sometimes we just like to imagine something may be true.

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply Mike, I honestly appreciate it when people do. At the end of the day, the people selling these “products” are simply selling smoke. They are being dishonest when they claim they are naming a star after someone, it’s just not true. Of course it’s a lovely idea, but I would much rather someone spent their money on a beautiful framed photo of a lost loved one, or of their fiancee, than pay for someone to sit at a desk in some office, enter their details into a database, print them off a certificate, and bung it in an envelope. But of course, people are free to make up their own minds, and if they are fully aware of the facts and still decide to go ahead with something like this then that’s great, I hope they enjoy it. But the people who aren’t aware of the facts, who fall for the glossy ads and spin in the blurb deserve to know the truth. But again, thanks for your comment.

  20. Thank you so much for this post. You provided exactly the information I was looking for! You presented the facts and then your honest opinion (stated as such, including qualifiers to minimize misunderstanding). Everyone can decide for themselves. I was considering “naming a star” for a friend. I would have been one of the embarrassed and mortified people simply because I hadn’t understood what it was. It must be heartbreaking for you to see people feel so foolish that they are discouraged from the wonders of astronomy! Thanks for your compassion and thanks again for the post.

  21. I was going to do this but i guess I wont. thanks for all the info.

  22. thank you for the info on name a star! I was going to do it for my dad this year and I’m so glad your post was up pretty high in the Google search! Happy Holidays.

  23. Thanks for the forthright info. Your blog is a breath of fresh honesty in an interweb of sales hype and misinformation. Thanks again

  24. When my boyfriend passed away unexpectedly I bought a binary star. Knowing the close relationship him and his sister had I thought it a perfect gift. I was totally aware that, in no form or fashion was this binary star ever going to be labeled with the name I chose. It would never show up in a science book with the name I chose. It would always have it’s scientific place in this world labeled with a number only.However I was very well aware of the depth of meaning and sincerity a gift like this could bring to someone and for as little as they cost I was happy to spend a few dollars on it, Cause having put a smile on the face of my best friend whom had just lost her brother (and my boyfriend) nothing can ever take away the value of that meaning and it was worth every penny. Cause for me, it isn’t how much you spend on a gift or what the gift is at all. It is the meaning of the gift you are giving and what it brings to someone else.. False hope? No not at all… It’s just looking up at a starry sky knowing that somewhere out there, is a star you feel connected to and that star has meaning in your heart.Just think of all the thousands of $$$ people throw away when they buy a card, that will just be thrown away eventually, never to be remembered. Well this gift is something that can’t be thrown away. It puts a little piece of heaven in the heart of the one receiving it. So with that, when my best friend looks up from her patio on a starry night she can find the star according to the coordinates and know in her heart she has a loved one out there in the heavens and if that can easy her pain and bring her comfort and peace then I see no harm in spending a little money on a little piece of the night sky. Even if it isn’t really registered as the star I named, she will always know it was a gift from the heart and it won’t be tossed in the trash like a greeting card will…

    • Exactly… it is not the fact that the star is not really going to be refered by this name, it is more of the principle of the thing….. it means something to you personally.

      • Then you just name it yourself then. Pick a star and name it without wasting money.

  25. I bought a star from http://www.buyastar.co.uk/ for my grandma’s birthday a couple of months ago. I was just looking again for a star to give my girlfriend for valentine’s day, when I found your article here.
    I already knew, that it is just a symbolic gift and that it’s not recognized anywhere official. However, the joy my grandma had, when she received her ‘own’ star was fantastic and very real. I think she doesn’t really care, if it is scientifically known anywhere. It’s her star in her perspective and I won’t tell her the opposite. I still think it’s a great gift and I will buy another one, but I agree with you that those sellers out there should make it clearer on their websites, that it is just symbolic.

    • Well said xxx
      Reading through all these comments was starting to get me down. I was going to name one for my partner as part of his birthday present as he is one of those that has everything. I was getting disheartened and had almost decided against it till I read your thoughts. I don’t think you could have put it any better. Sometimes its what’s in your heart…its the thought…the hope…the possibilities. And to be able to look into the night sky up at the stars and breath in the wonder of it all and know that although its just symbolic… Someone loves and thinks of you enough to name a star after you. What it symbolises and represents is what its about. That feeling it leaves deep in your soul. That’s what life is about. A piece of heaven. Thank you

  26. Thank You for the heads up. I was going to buy my fiancé a star but I realize with what you said, it is all true. again, thank you for the heads up.

  27. F*ckin’ tremendous things here. I am very glad to see your article. Thanks a lot and i am looking forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  28. Brilliant, Stu – well done. I looked at your article after having been contacted last night by a relative whose friend had “bought a star” and could I show it to them at my observatory.? No, I said. Excellent advice on the telescope issue as well. So good to read some SENSE online!

  29. appreciate the info thank you

  30. What the hell the author of this blog clearly has not felt loss an grief and we who buys a star are not stupid we are aware of the facts that,the star is not recongised by the astronomers but it is part of a healing process that you do not have a right to diminish,sure it may seem frugal to you but for myself an my family naming a star gives us closure and recognition of our loved ones so unless the star naming companies are doing the hard sell to you directly you should just leave peoples decisions alone

  31. I skipped right to the bottom..lol..Of course they won’t refer to your star by name.It’s for fun.However you can see the star you named and enjoy it every year.The fee is to have your loved ones name in the data base.Fun for kids like Santa and the eater bunny.Not to be taken this seriously. 🙂

  32. What a condescending, cynical tone this blog takes. Especially towards the end.

  33. You know, you could spend a lot of money buying a toy for your kid that they will play with for a week then toss it in the closet never to be seen again. Or you can make them feel special, even if it is a novelty and name a star after them a gift that lasts a lifetime. showing your eternal love, showing how much you care. For you to say that it is a waste of time or to say that it’s fake, well you have no right. It is not your place to say what gift is a bad idea. You should be ashamed of yourself. You talk about how you will never be able to see the star well that isn’t really all that important. I got my son all kinds of stuff for his birthday, toy trucks, a play house, and a star named after him. Guess which gift he went bat shit crazy over? Having a star named after him. He thought it was amazing and cool that one of those tiny little specks of light in the sky had his name on it.

    • Thanks for your comment Alicia. The problem is, as I say in my post, you haven’t actually “bought” anything. The star does NOT bear his name, not officially. It will never appear in any book, on any star chart, or be used by any astronomer. Ever. I fully accept that you paid your money in good faith, but all you paid for was to have someone tap a name into a computer and enter it into a database before printing you off a shiny certificate. That star is only named on that company’s lists, not in any other company’s lists, and not on any astronomers’ lists or charts. I’m really happy your son enjoyed his gift, and I am not trying to insult people or upset them, but I think the truth should be known.

      • What is your problem,(not your real name,phoenixpics)? From the anti star naming messages you have been posting, sounds like you might have been a miserable salesperson for one of these Star Naming companies. What makes you an expert on what people want. Do you go to Funeral Homes and tell grieving family members they are spending too much on the casket or they should not have the funeral on weekends because of the higher rates. Or what about tossing a $3 rose onto the casket as it’s being lowered into the vault, is that foolish. If it serves the purpose of consoling a grieving heart, what price do you put on the result. Let it go man, if I want to name a light pole after my best friend what concern of yours should it be !!! Get a life

      • Thanks for your comments, appreciate you taking the time to do that. My real name isn’t phoenix pics (obviously!) that’s just the name of my first WordPress blog, set up years ago, so it hangs around as my user name. My real name – which can be found easily on here, by anyone genuinely bothered enough to need to know it – is Stuart Atkinson, and I’m an astronomer and writer living in the UK. I definitely didn’t work for a star naming company, no, but I have come up against the damage their products have done many times over the years, misleading and disappointing vulnerable people, so that’s why I wrote this post. And again, as I have said many times here, if people “buy a star” KNOWING that it’s not genuine, just doing it to make a loving gesture, that’s fine that’s a nice thing to do. It’s the people who *genuinely* believe they are giving a star the name of their loved one – and that that star will be called that by astronomers, and labelled that in books etc in the future – that I am doing this for. I meet these people all the time, and it can be heartbreaking, you have no idea, so spare me your righteous indignation, ok? I have had people close to tears when I have explained the reality of the situation to people who wanted to be shown “their star” or wanted to know a good book to buy so they could see their star labelled with their loved one’s name. What am I supposed to do? Just wave them away? Ignore them? I CAN’T show them the star, I CAN’T show them a star atlas with that name on it, because it’s not real. Obviously I don’t wag my finger at people and laugh at them “Oh, idiot! You’ve wasted your money!” Give me some credit as a decent human being. I just explain, sensitively, and only if I sense that they really want to know the truth, the reality of the situation. It is, as you rightly say, a gesture, and from the right place a very considerate one, I don’t dispute that. With all respect your points about funeral homes (I work in a care home, by the way, so come up against death and its effects on families way more often than you, I’m sure) and roses etc are all fairly made, and of course I wouldn’t do that, that would be ridiculous. But think of it this way. If one of your Grand daughters told you she’d spent some of her pocket money on buying a brick on the Great Wall of China, or a block of stone in one of the Pyramids, or a rock on the Moon, or Mars from a nice man on the internet, what would you think? How angry would you be? Star naming is like that. They are selling fresh air – well, a fancy certificate, that’s all. It is absolutely harmless if you are clued up about the product you are buying, if you know it is for entertainment purposes only. But if you’re not, if you’re a young mum who can’t afford the money, or a pensioner, or whatever, and you buy one of these things genuinely believing you HAVE bought something, that for years, decades, centuries to come one of the stars in the sky will bear your loved one’s name, that astronomers will know it by that name, that it will have that name printed next to it in books and atlases, well, that is wrong, and in my mind cruel too. That’s where I’m coming at this from, not as a killjoy, but as someone who, unlike yourself I’ll bet, actually comes up against the fallout from this in real life. So, seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to a) read my post and b) comment on it. People are free to do what they want, I am just giving them the facts behind the product. As for getting a life, my life is full of showing people the true wonders of the night sky, and teaching classrooms full of kids about astronomy and space exploration, so I will not let any of those people fall for this.

  34. I almost never drop responses, however I read a few of
    the comments on Two things NOT to buy for Christmas | Cumbrian Sky.

    I do have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or do a few of these remarks look like they are coming from brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I would
    like to keep up with you. Could you post a list of all of your social community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  35. I love how passionate you are about this topic. I was thinking of buying a star for my 8 year old son, but thought it was some kind of scam. After reading your blog I have decided to choose a star I like and make him a certificate that goes with it. It has just as much credibility as any of the other star registry sites. Thanks!

  36. Who cares if it’s not official? In the end it’s my money. If I want to spend $30 or $50 on a star that I am aware is not officially named, then why would you care? Smh

    • Thanks “Anon” (love it when people don’t give their real names, or a real email address, really makes me take their comment seriously). As you say, if you’re aware it’s not official, then fair enough. But many people aren’t, and they are taken advantage of.

  37. This post is dead, but you’re saying it’s stupid of me to spend $20 to name a star after a little 6 year old girl and send her the certificate when she has a terminal illness and isn’t expected to live to Christmas? Bullshit, who cares if it’s a real star or not, it’s the thought and if it helps a 6 year old believe that she has a star named after her for her bravery, then what’s the harm?

    • That’s a lovely gesture, and of course you’re not stupid for making it. There’s no harm in your purchase at all if you’re aware of the true situation, and it’s a wonderful thing to do. But you’re missing my point. My problem with these companies is that they take money from people for “selling” them something they have no right to sell. That’s not right, it’s just not. It’s like someone “selling” you a piece of the Moon, or a block of stone from the Pyramids – it’s a con, because they have no right to do it. Many people “buy” stars thinking they are gifting a loved one a present that will last forever. They imagine that their star will be called that by astronomers and scientists for years maybe even centuries to come – but that’s just not true. All they have bought is the time it takes for someone to tap in a name on a computer, put it into a database, and print off and mail a pretty piece of paper. Now, if people are aware of that, fine, no problem, that is a lovely gesture, as I said. But they’re not the people these products are marketed at – they’re marketed at vulnerable people who are not aware of the truth of the situation, and genuinely believe they are buying a physical thing. They’re not, they’re just not.

      • No Literal Lyle, regarding the star, you are missing it.

        Scammers will sell you airplane potty waste and say it is a meteorite, but the star is not in that category of gifting.

        No one is going to travel to said star to stake their claim. I like to think that having a name of a special person in spirit sense attached to an amazing part of our universe is a gift even the giver can enjoy. How many times do we search the night sky for a sign of a connection to that vast and beautiful display? I think very literal people would not enjoy musing about a star gifting, but for our spiritual free thinkers out there, it is truly a gift.

  38. Ok here is the thing about naming a star. When a star is pointed out to you as designated with your name, it means for your eyes and only your eyes ( if visible) or for your mysterious imagination about the star (if not visible).

    Who cares if someone across the state has the same star, the owners are not looking at them together. If I were to buy a star and tell my loved one to look up in the sky and know I wanted a star with their name on it, it means I think there are no earthly gifts that will do for the special occasion. It might mean that from me to them, I think they are as bright and spectacular as a star. So what if a Grandpa from Sante Fe might see the same star and know his kids wanted him to see how high they held him in esteem.

    Its all good. The paperwork or certificate is just a reminder for the new owner of the star, to remind them of how special they are. A lousy card from Hallmark can cost 10.00, and will be looked at twice.

    You sound like Literal Lyle. The world is full of tasteless gifts, but to receive a ink jet printed certificate that someone named a piece of sky jewelry after you is pretty Da* special.

    Look at it like real estate. Lots of people lay claim to time shares. Why can’t a person buy a spot on that star up there, right beside Fred, Gomez and Toggles. Stars are huge. There is room for everybody, no vacancy signs do not exist there. Deuces.

    • You make some good points there, and it sounds like you are well clued-up as to the reality of the situation. 🙂 But if you had people come up to you, as I have done, asking you if you can show them the star they “bought” and named after their dead baby, or their son or daughter who was killed in Iraq, or their grandparent who died of cancer, or their brother who died in a car crash, you might feel differently. Those people spent money buying something which was not real, and which they thought would honour and immortalise their loved one, as people will call that star by their name, and it will have that name in books, and on charts used by astronomers – a beautiful idea, a beautiful gesture, but just not true. 😦

  39. As for a telescope? If you live in the city with high rises all around, they are THE perfect way to get to know your neighbors on a more personal level.

    Who is looking for stars? Seriously? Do you really believe a grown man living in Apt 15 is not spying into the apt of the new blonde resident across the way??

    You need to get out more… Uh Stu

  40. I know all this. It’s OKAY that they won’t be named really after people, but people who get a star will be happy and feel loved and happy to get it. That gesture is nice itself. I am getting one tomorrow for my parents for xmas. They have everything they want, they have money, expensive clothes, perfumes, jewellery ….. they never get star named after them and even if people in 1000 years won’t know anything about that name, my parents will be happy. and it will be on the wall and make them smile each time they will see it. That emotion is more then fact whether it is real or not.

    • Thanks Miriam, I do know where you’re coming from, and in theory it really is a lively gift idea, and if it makes your folks smile that’s fantastic, but there has to be honesty here – just realise that they are NOT having a star named after them. That star will never bear their name in any book, or magazine, or in any star atlas or book of charts, no-one will ever be able to show it to them on a clear night, and no-one else will ever use it, ever. I really am not trying to upset people, but seriously, people need to be aware that this is selling fresh air. If they’re happy with that, then fine. But many people buying these products genuinely believe and trust that they are actually naming a star for a loved one, and they’re not, they’re just not.

  41. to those thinking of buying a “star”….please forward your details to me…..ive some really unique sand from Arabia to sell you 🙂

  42. Cheers for the advice. Was thinking about it but after a Google search there are more star registry’s than stars, you become a bit sceptical!

    • Yes, Eugene, there are lots, and not one of them, not one, has the right to sell you, or anyone, the name of a star. They dress it up in many ways, but the fundamental truth is you are paying for a piece of paper, and for someone to sit and enter your details into a database. It means nothing.

  43. Hi, thank you for your advise. Won’t be buying/naming a star!!

  44. I was going to buy one but having read your blog have decide that a donation to Macmillan nurses or prostrate cancer would be a better way to sp.end money in memory of a very special person

  45. Harry from the Interstellar Registry here. phoenixpics makes legitimate points. Star registries must make it clear what their customers are purchasing. Ensuring the stars are visible or in the appropriate hemisphere is also excellent feedback.

    Many in the comments have also made great points about the real feelings of joy their friends and loved ones experience when they receive their certificates of registration. The value is in the gesture and experience provided–not the physical piece of paper. Most star registries also provide memorabilia and educational resources along with registration.

    How can star registries do better?

    Today, The Interstellar Registry donates 10% of our profits to The Planetary Society to advance space science and exploration.

    Soon, we will have a star registry platform for all registries to add stars to which will be easily searchable by all passionate fans of personalized and accessible astronomy.

    The universal registry will be backed up on IPFS (ipfs.io), colloquially known as The Permanent Web. IPFS is a new distributed hypermedia transport protocol based off Bitcoin blockchain technology. Which is more impermanent and transient? A centralized database or the distributed internet?

    Our goal is to bring transparency, accessibility, and a greater focus on space science education to star registration. In doing so we hope to elevate the practices of the broader star registry community.

    phoenixpics is there anything star registries could do to gain your support and the support of the wider astronomy community? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Sincerely,

    Harry
    http://www.interstellarregistry.com

    • Thanks for your comment Harry, you’re the only representative from a star naming company to get in touch, so I appreciate and respect that.

      I have to be honest – no, there is nothing you, or any other registry, could do to get my support, because I have a very basic, very fundamental problem with what you do: you have no right, whatsoever, to name a star after anyone. Absolutely none. So no matter how fancily you dress it up – donating some of the money to the PS, saying you’re supporting and encouraging space science, etc – the very basic truth is you are knowingly taking money off people and selling them fresh air. They get a fancy certificate, and whatever “additional resources” you might offer, but they have paid only to have one of your employees sit at a desk and enter their details into a database on your computer system, and that is it. That star will never be called by that name in any astronomy book, in any star atlas, on any star chart spread out on a table or pinned to a wall or held up in a frosty night by any astronomer, amateur or professional.

      Now, if people are aware of that when they buy one of your products, that’s fine, because in principle it is a lovely idea – naming a star after someone, living or dead, to immortalise them in the sky. If I didn’t know the reality of the situation I would probably have bought several myself for loved ones. It must be lovely for people to think – as you lead them to believe – that a star, up there, bears the name of their loved one, and always will. But that’s just not true, is it?

      So while you might attempt to distract customers, and disguise the truth of the matter, by providing “memorabilia” and donating to worthy causes, and might even believe yourselves that you are doing nothing wrong, maybe even helping science, the very basic truth is you are selling something which is not yours to sell. And that is wrong.

      I live in a beautiful part of England, the Lake District, famous across the world for its stunning scenery and landscapes. I could, quite easily, set myself up as a business selling the naming rights to stones on the shore of Lake Windermere, or sheep grazing the fells above Derwentwater. I could just as easily offer to name, for a fee of course, the ancient stone blocks which make up Kendal’s historic and ancient castle. I could use my Photoshop and DTP skills to create beautiful-looking certificates of ownership, and send my customers beautiful photos of their purchases. And every time they looked at a photo of that lake shore, or that hillside, or the castle, they would think that they owned a little bit of it.

      Ridiculous, I know. But in my opinion that’s exactly what star registry companies do.

      As an amateur astronomer involved very heavily in community Outreach I am asked frequently if I can show someone “the star” they bought for someone. Usually they are just devoted boyfriends or girlfriends, making a romantic gesture, or a proud parent, etc. But now and again someone asks me if I can show them a star they bought under different circumstances – maybe to honour a son or daughter killed in Iraq, or a partner who died in a car crash, or a parent who died from cancer or some other illness, or a baby that died soon after birth. They bought a star from you, or some other company, thinking, trusting that it would actually bear that name from then on, officially. They paid their money believing that that star would be called that by scientists, that it would have that name next to it in books, on charts, and in atlases. They believed that for years, maybe even centuries to come, that star would be known, by everyone, by the name they paid for it to have. And they are wrong. They were misled. They bought something, when vulnerable, when desperate, under false pretences. Now, I don’t just blurt out that they were misled, obviously, that would be cruel and heartless, give me some credit. I tell them what a lovely gesture it was, and how sorry I am for their loss, but I do let them know that their purchase, while a beautiful thought, is not as official as they thought, and I do tell them that I can’t show them “their star” because it is either too faint to see through my telescope, or in the southern hemisphere, or both. Reactions vary. Some are horrified, and angry – at me, at themselves and at you – for having been misled and having wasted their money; others are very grateful to have been told the truth, but still think it was a lovely idea, and have no regrets. Others just don’t believe me, and go away to find “someone else who will help”. But all of them know that they paid money, to you or your competitors, to buy the name of a star, yet actually own nothing. And that is so, so sad, and often I feel awful afterwards. But I have an obligation to tell the truth about this.

      And that’s why you will never have my support, or the support of any astronomer I know, and why I will make every effort I can to make sure people know what they are actually “buying” if they purchase one of your products.

      I know you will not stop selling these products, nor will any of your competitors. There’s obviously too much money in it. But you should at least make it 100% clear in your advertising and support literature that you are not actually “naming a star” after your customers’ loved ones at all, because you have no right to. You are offering an unofficial novelty gift, just like the people selling land on the Moon, or Mars. You should make it absolutely clear – not in small print tucked away on a leaflet’s back page – that, like horoscopes, your products are for entertainment and novelty value only, not official in any way. If you could do that it would be much more honest and, as you say, transparent.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog, Harry, I genuinely appreciate it.

  46. thank you i stumbled across this looking to buy stars for my children
    and grand children for christmas, after reading this i shall not bother
    many thanks Di

  47. Isn’t star naming similar to “adopt an animal” you get a certificate and get to visit your chosen whatever it might be.
    Yes it’s for charity but a big percentage of the fee is taken up on keeping you in touch, the certificate, the postage and asking for more next year?

    • A little, maybe, but the big difference is the zoo has the *right* to name that animal for you, they own it, and it’s a real, physical thing. If you “buy” a star name you’re buying it from a company that has no right to sell that name, none at all. If you adopt an animal there will be a plaque or chart on its enclosure, with your name on it. It will belong, in a small way, to you. If you pay to have a star named, it will never, ever bear your paid for name in any book, in any atlas, on any chart, website or document, it exists purely on the certificate you were sent and in that company’s database. And if you wanted to see it, you almost certainly wouldn’t be able to, because the star is either too faint to see without a telescope or in the other hemisphere, or both.

      • I think I will stick to my penguins then.

      • Thanks for making my mind up for me . I was going to by a certificate naming a Star for my Grandson who died at birth but after reading your heartless responses to some comfort seeking people, I’ve decided to not only purchase a Certificate for my Grandson, but now I will purchase 3 more for my Grand-Daughters. Thanks dude

      • Check again, none of my responses have been “heartless”, I have only given honest information, no judgement. I sincerely hope that your gesture for your Grandson is comforting to you and others.

  48. thank you very much for the article. i have looked into a few times in the last months and was serious about purchasing one and if it was not for you i would have. you say its not a con, it is if i am led to believe its something its not. the law in the uk now states important matters can’t be hidden in small print, its a con ….
    but it does give me an idea for a new business lol

  49. Gosh I get your point but you really know how to sh!t on the picnic sandwiches!
    Pretty sure no one is stupid enough to think they officially and singularly own a star. I think we call it “a novelty gift”.
    People can buy small metre square patches of land to make a loved one a Lord or lady (guess what, I think this may also be a “novelty gift”)
    And don’t forget when you adopt a panda or other endangered species, just think of the hundreds of disappointed customers waiting for Pete the Panda to move into the spare room

  50. Literally was about to press buy on a well known online shop then read this and thought, I’d rather sponsor a charity instead for them. Thank you.

  51. OK. I love the way you write, and your attitude…competely aligns with mine. And thanks for the info. I think my friend just may be thrilled anyway, but it remains to be seen. Mayne friend you in Facebook, or however one ‘drops you a line’?

  52. Also, I am iso a telescope (s) I found a few years ago that include a DVD that shoes exactly what you are looking at.

    Being an outside the box person and having the great Fernbank Science Center here in Atlanta, and an in with the curator, I can take him to see ‘his’ star. Trust me, this guy will be thrilled….I hope!

    • I recently paid to have a star to be named after my 12 year daughter LaciLynn2003 is what i chose. knowing that at most it was just a gesture of my love her. I have always had an infatuation i guess you could say about the infinite universe and what may be out there still to be found. im 43 now and im still in awe of what we find but cant see directly. i struggled with whether or not to actually give her the (certificate and what nots) knowing that it was not 100% legit. The decision i finally came to after reading this blog? I still dont know. I know that all it will ever be is a gesture, but sometimes thats all it takes to change a life for better or worse and if i can peak her interest in our skies and beyond like me and let her know how i feel for years to come when she looks at the night sky then that would be worth more than i could ever possibly have. I do have to say that if she were an adult then this gesture probably wouldnt be much and and i would feel like a fool or a victim of a scam. thank you phoenixpics for shedding a little more light on a shady subject such as naming a star. I may even name one after you as gesture of appreciation.

  53. Lighten up! It’s a novelty gift (a small and inexpensive toy or ornament). Who cares if no-one ever refers to it or knows about it. Life can be about dreams and hopes when we need it to be.

  54. I bought a star from Amazon in 2010. I have now build a rocket in order to go & collect the star to proudly display it in my new conservatory, Not only did I then find out that I didn’t actually own the star, I also found out that it had gone into supernova a couple of 1000 years ago. That’s right, it no longer exists! Shame on you Amazon, I now demand a refund on the £79.99 tall lamp I have bought from Amazon in place of the bright star. Don’t worry about the cost of the rocket, I’m paying that via Direct Debit.

  55. How someone spends their money is completely up to them, one persons loss is another’s investment. For the price of 3 pints of beer that will be forgotten about in the blink of an eye I have named a star after a family member who is sadly no longer with us. The Certificate and Star Chart mean far more than merely just being a bit of paper..

    The comments above about buying flowers or donations to charities to remember loved ones.. these are far more unreal.. Flowers die, a couple of weeks later nothing… our memory about that time fades.. Donate to a charity & receive a nice email and…. in time our memory of the act fades..

    Yes the Star name sellers are onto a good thing… their never going to run out of stars to name.. They could change their company name and start their registry again… So what… I don’t care… did I actually think £9 bought me a Star.. haha.. no I didn’t.. did I think that £9 bought me a memory to reflect on and fond thoughts to remember by, yes I did and I do.. It doesn’t bring closure to loss.. but it surely helps.

    • “did I actually think £9 bought me a Star.. haha.. no I didn’t.. did I think that £9 bought me a memory to reflect on and fond thoughts to remember by, yes I did and I do”

      Did it occur to you that you could have produced your own certificate and achieved exactly the same effect without paying anyone else a penny?

  56. Thank You for this as I wanted to “buy a star” for my Mum and Dad but I won’t now. My Dad showed me all the different stars in the sky when I was a child and that’s what I will hold on to.

  57. Very good advice and thankyou,as my friend had been bought a star along with her mum,dad and sister for christmas i thought What a good idea for nxt yr(as this christmas as just gone)i was amazed you could even buy a star!,but reading your blog has made me realise,its just people exploiting other peoples good nature while they get money in their bank accounts.My money is going on a new pot for Dads grave,so avery big thankyou.

  58. I found your blog as I was researching a Name A Star link; lucky!
    My best friend just lost…her dog died and she’s down for the count, devastated. I wanted to do something astronomical! Huge! Whimsical! All that.
    I’ll donate to a shelter in her area. Thanks, Voice of Reason!

  59. Star registry services a novelty purchase, but it can also be a great learning tool with kids for introducing them to astronomy. We purchased star names for our kids during Hanukkah this past year and they loved it, plus since we purchased at Name A Star Live they got to watch a space launch that took their names to space. It may be a novelty gift… but worth it our case. https://www.nameastarlive.com

  60. I am frankly amazed at the large numbers of people on here criticizing the writer of the blog for pointing out a pertinent fact about companies which claim to name stars after people. He has done a public service for those, like myself, who very nearly purchased a star in memory of a very recently departed loved one. I am still grieving and as such, I wasn’t really “thinking straight” when I began to consider purchasing a star in memory of her upcoming birthday-the first one that we will be spending without her. How proud we would have all been, and I would have patted myself on the back for my creative thinking, when I would have presented this certificate to my immediate family. Instead of purchasing a very expensive, glossy piece of paper, I will use my money more wisely, in her memory. For that, I thank the writer of this blog and encourage him to continue educating those of us who would have been deceived by these companies-blinded by emotions or simply a lack of knowledge. For those who were aware that they were not really purchasing stars, this blog is not for you. The blogger has said that many times over, so the indignant posts are an absolute waste of your time and his.

  61. I see that article from 2010 is still up to date. I also found it when I was looking for information about buying a star. And I totally agree with opinion, that buying a name is totally senseless, but I also found a company which sells ownership – it’s like with Moon. It’s called Kingdom of Universe – what do you think about it?

  62. I agree with your article completely & has made me want to learn the sky even more, but in the right way so I can share it with my children. I only wish you had written a book because I am no astronomer but I think I could really learn it well from your advice in this blog.. Thank you!! A big help

    • Have actually written lots of books and worked on many more Angie.. can send you list if you like 🙂

  63. I am curious, why it can not be organised, put together and made official?
    coliate evidence, get the officials to accept it, control the buying of stars and pieces of planets, or even lands in Scotland.

    And some day, in the future, we can go to other planets, and say “this was bought by Elisa, fifth of March 2016, and this star is called Elisa.

    Just like other stars have names, the process could be naming the unnamed ones.
    I think it would take a lot of work and collaboration, and like some asteroids, discovered by two different people, the stars may have a name like “Arnold-Bond” star.

  64. Every idiot knows that nobody owns the stars! Every company (or at least the top companies selling stars) also state that very clearly on their website (http://www.onlinestarregistry.com/us/en/ – right on the first page and https://osr.org/ for example).
    It is just a beautiful symbolic gift as the stars they sell are in fact very real and do actually exist. In my opinion it is an especially nice way for remembering the deceased.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I honestly appreciate it. We’ll have to disagree on this one. 🙂

  65. My husband recently mentioned that he wanted to “buy a star” for a close friend of ours who passed away last year. Although I understood the appeal, I warned him that there were no authentic ways of doing this, and he was disappointed. However, we could buy a membership to the Planetary Society in our friend’s name, and the active membership list is sent with space missions every few years (the next mission being OSIRIS-REx this fall). I feel that the Planetary Society is a worthy cause supporting real science, so the money will be well spent, and it’s nice to think of my friend’s name going to some other planet, asteroid, comet, etc. (if only on a microchip). Info here: http://www.planetary.org/get-involved/messages/namesinspace.html

    Sometimes the best advice for people asking this question is an alternative that can help meet the same emotional needs (just as the advice to give binoculars instead of a telescope provides a good alternative). And for what it’s worth, many of the destinations of these missions can be spotted with a telescope, fulfilling the human desire to be able to look at a place and think of their loved one.

  66. I was (and still am!) considering getting a star for a friend and her husband for their wedding day. I did realise from the start that this was never going to be official – and also that even if they did get to see *their* star it may be four or five years before it is even visible even with the aid of a telescope! It was always meant to be a *fun* present. Having said that I can sooo totally see where you are coming from with the the sadness that you see from people who have purchased these for dead loved ones – there really should be more information on these web sites to state the actual facts about these stars. I do feel so sorry for people that buy them them believing they will actually be able to *see a star with the name on*. I am now feeling quite bad that I am still considering this gift as I am obviously helping the myth!

    • Don’t feel bad, I think that’s a lovely thing to do. Try Adopt A Star, they fund research and you can adopt a star system which is marked on Google 🙂

  67. God you’re a miserable bugger aren’t you, lol? People spend a fortune on Santa and the tooth fairy, they aren’t real either. There are two problems with this post. The first is you’re assuming everyone’s motivation is to immortalise themselves or their loved one, when for many it’s simply a romantic or sentimental gesture. The second is, you never bothered to ask if it’s possible to do this AND fund genuine research. Guess what, it is. I found an organisation that donates 100% of its profits to research, and I can now have a conversation with my 4 year old friends son, about stars. Hopefully this will create a new generation of those who look up and wonder.

  68. Thank you for the information on the Star naming. I was thinking about doing this for my Daughter Christine Catherine Campbell. To keep her memory up in the sky forever. I did believe this would be a way for people to to see her name when we are all gone. I will continue to find ways to keep my daughters name on this earth.
    Thank you

  69. Who the fuck cares if it’s real or not???? Isn’t the gesture nice anyways?? Why not just go with it, for the other people, it’s not like it matters TO YOU anyways. For fuck sakes, you people are WAY WAY too much. Who cares if it’s real or not? Let them believe what they want, if it makes them happy, why ruin a good thing?? It’s not like it matters in 100 years anyways. Fucking pricks with nothing better to do than to make people sad. Like….. WHO CARES WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO?? JUST MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY. BE NICE.

    • > Who the fuck cares if it’s real or not?

      Evidently not you. But not everyone feels the same was as you, so it’s nice that someone’s gone to the bother of pointing out what some people might see as a con for the benefit of those who care. And the fact that quite a few people here have expressed their gratitude for having that pointed out to them suggests that, despite your arrogant assumption that you speak for everyone, there are people who do care. Why does their gratitude make you so angry? Are you so mean-spirited that you’d rather see then upset when the find out that, in their eyes, they’ve been cheated than to be in full possession of the facts before they lay out their hard-earned cash?

      > …it’s not like it matters TO YOU anyways.

      How do you know what matters to people you’ve never met? Some people feel this thing called ‘compassion’ for others and it matters to them that people might do something which they wouldn’t have done, had they been fully informed of the facts. You’re evidently not one of them, so you wouldn’t understand things like ’empathy’ and ‘caring’, would you.

      > Fucking pricks…BE NICE.

      And that’s nice, is it? Calling people fucking pricks is an example of how you’d like everyone to be nice is it? That’s not exactly what most people have in mind when they talk about ‘being nice’, but then, you come across as an extremely unpleasant, self-centred person who resents anyone having a view that differs from your own, so you may never have managed ‘nice’ in your life and probably wouldn’t know nice if it came up to you and gave you a hug.

      > WHO CARES WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO?

      Apparently, you do. And so much so that you have to SHOUT about it and be abusive to well intentioned people because of it, too.

      Why do you care so much that someone is making people aware of the true nature of these purchases, anyway? All he’s doing is pointing out a fact these people don’t seem keen on making themselves, preferring to let people’s assume something which isn’t true. And you’re evidently really angry about this. Are you one of the those preying on gullible people by selling them something worthless? Do you resent your potential prey being alerted to your fraudulent scheme? It’s hard to imagine why you’d be quite so vehement in your condemnation, otherwise.

  70. Great advice. Common sense really when you think about it. Was going to buy my 70 year old Dad one as stuck for what to buy. Will refrain from this.

  71. Cheers

  72. Thank you for answering all the questions that were buzzing around in my head!

  73. Interesting that this article completely misses the point .. Buying (giving) someone a star embodies an ‘idea’ – the star is not intended to be an actual physical ‘item’. Its a thought, or a wish, or a memory – that is being symbolized by the star and the act of giving it to someone. What is so wrong and complicated about that?

    • Nothing if the money went to a charity perhaps

    • Hi Deborah. For me, what is “wrong” is that the companies are leading some people to believe that they are genuinely buying the right to have a star called by that name by *everyone* – astronomers, everyone. And that’s just not true.

  74. I purchased a “name a star” for my partner as a christmas present. The story behind it being that when she was based in Exmouth university and i was 200 miles away, She would call me in tears, telling me how much she missed me and that she was lonely and wished that she could be closer to me. I would tell her to look up and try and find the same star as me in the night sky, and then i would say that we are probably the only two people looking at that exact star, and that would make her feel like we were closer together. When she unwrapped her gift on christmas she was in tears and absolutely loved it as we had our own star to look at together. We know it was gimmicky but the sentimental thought process behind it out shone that notion. Each to their own I say. I cant wait to read your next article on the pros and cons of buying anything related to a belief in a god of a persons choosing…..are gods real or fake, and if so is everyone who sells a religious item a conman??

    • Thanks for your comment Darren, I appreciate you taking the time to leave it – and I am very happy you and your partner have had such a positive experience this way. My concern isn’t for people like you who know exaactly what they are buying, it’s for people who believe they are actually buying the naming rights to a star that will be called by that name, by other people, forever. Loved your story, thank you 🙂

  75. Hello there,
    With the first anniversary of the death of my dad coming up at Christmas I had thought of putting it to my brothers, sister and mum that we could name a star for him. For me it is something that feels totally different, heavenly, compared to laying a bench as memorial for example. However, it did occur to me that if this was an official thing to do that there would be scam websites so i googled it, and i’ve come across your blog. It was sad for me to read but I was not truly surprised. I understand what some people have replied in that if it makes the person feel happier, more content, comforted then it’s worth it, and on that I agree except I do not wish to line the pockets of the business that set the website up in the name of my dead daddy. I feel for others this marrs the sweet special gesture they think they have made even if they do not know it and so I hope that this word gets out and companies like Argos and similar do not get involved in such unscrupulous dealings.

  76. Thank u so much for your. Insite and information ,I thought it was really cool and somewhat funny ,it is good to KNOW HONESTY still exist .I was going to purchase some for my grands ,good looking out

  77. I have bought my grandson a telescope for his birthday as he has asked for one. I will STILL be buying him a star for Christmas( even after reading this warning and depressing blog) so he can search the sky for it. It is not all about the money, it is about curiosity, learning, exploring and FUN.
    No way am I being conned! It is completely worth it and 100 times better than a computer game.

    • Print up a certificate of your own. It will have exactly the same degree of authenticity.

      You’re right, you’re not being conned but you will be willingly handing your money to people are selling something they don’t own, so have no right to sell. What would you call that?

    • “Depressing blog”? Didn’t mean it to be, just being honest. Genuinely hope your grandson enjoys his gifts.

  78. You sound like a shill to me.

  79. Hi, I for one appreciate the time it must have taken to write your blog. I was thinking about buying one for my partner, but thought I’d try to find out more about it, I’m so glad I did! Thank you for saving me!
    Phew……I was so close, how gullible could I have been. Obviously I know nothing about such things, and like many others thought it would be a nice present.
    Once again thank you!

    Lyn

  80. Thank you for your blog. I was looking into buying a star and I would have done it too if I hadn’t read this. Of course it makes sense now you point it out! I do hope the link to your blog stays where it is on google. It will save another sucker like me! BTW I have a telescope I got given if anyone wants it…….
    Juliet

    • Thanks Juliet, glad you found the post useful, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment. 🙂

  81. you suck, man

  82. What a sad cunt to write up this horse shite. How many things do you buy that is a waste of money? Who fucking cares you pleb?

    It’s a gift, it’s the meaning of it! Is this not what’s it is all about you knob hockey! Go fuck yourself. Going to name 10 stars now. Fuck you

    • Wow! Was just thinking what Dr Rant posted then his post came online, although would not use the language and tone.

      I do utterly agree however that the meaning of a gift is the important undertone here not all the nonsense mentioned. Majority of things we do and buy and irrelevant in the grnad scheme of things.

      Have just named 4 stars for my children and think you should get a life also.

      S 😊

      • Thanks “S”, I have a life, actually, thank you, but I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Again, everyone, I have no problem with people buying these products if they are fully aware of the reality of the situation. My concern is that others buy them believing they are making a scientific, permanent purchase of some kind. I hope your kids enjoy their presents. 🙂

    • Who cares? If you’d bothered to read the comments, you’d have found that lots of people care. They’re the ones who’ve thanked him for enlightening them.

      > It’s a gift, it’s the meaning of it!

      A gift you could make yourself for next to nothing and which would have exactly the same effect as paying someone else to press a button and print a certificate for you. That’s the point.

      Here’s a suggestion: instead of wasting your money ‘naming’ stars which no one but you will ever call by whatever name you choose, why not spend it on a course in English grammar, so that you can rant at people without making yourself appear to be an illiterate fool? Or, at least, illiterate. Anyone who would deliberately throw money away as you plan is unlikely ever to appear as anything but a fool, I’m afraid, but at least you could sound like an articulate fool.

    • Oooh look, everyone, an oh-so-witty profanity-riddled post from an anonymous keyboard warrior who hides behind a false name! And doesn’t he use some nasty words! I bet, like all trolls, he’s sat there right now, giddily checking for replies to his comment, again and again, hoping desperately he’s offended or annoyed me. Well, tough luck. You’re not worth my time and all the positive comments to this post show it was useful to some people.

  83. Not all people are that stupid. I research, a lot. Way more then I probably should before doing anything or even believing in anything. I know when I “bought a star” I really just bought a fancy paper with a stamp from the office store. But it’s not about that. It’s the ascetic “feel”. The hope that it means something, or the fact that it might just be the thought that counts. My husband very much enjoys looking at the stars and and the wonders of everything going on up there that we can’t see or imagine. He enjoys teaching our kids about it all. THATS why I bought that shiny piece of paper. So he and the kids will have that time trying to find it. That’s what they will remmeber. That’s the legacy that will be cherished. The time he spent and memories he’s making is what makes that piece of paper worth it.

    • That’s lovely to hear – and, again, I have no concerns over people who go into this purchase with knowledge of the facts and appreciate it for what it is. My concern is that vulnerable people who don’t have astronomy backgrounds, who don’t know the facts behind the fancy packaging, hand over their cash genuinely believing they are paying to have a star named after a loved one, and it will be called by that name forevermore in books, on charts etc. That’s not the case. Obviously you knew that, which is great, it just made it a lovely novelty gift, but if you’d had my experiences – of grieving parents wanting to see the star named after their stillborn baby, or a mother wanting to see the star naked after her child who died in a car crash, or in Iraq, it isn’t so harmless.

  84. So…is there any legit way (not on a scam website) to *officially get a star named after someone you love?

  85. Just want to say Thank you. My nephew got a star named after him becaused he died. I thought how cool is this! Then I read your article and found it very enlightening. My brother loves to look into the night sky with his telescope and then show us all what he has seen. Now with that said we have some amateur experience with this but we are fascinated by what we see and then studying it. To have this information about buying stars has been a blessing. Again Thank you

  86. I thank you very much for your candid article on purchasing a star name. As a grieving grandparent, I had heard of this option and had seriously considered it as a gift for Finn’s parents. It was something they had considered in the past, and of course it would be perfect. However, armed with the recently acquired knowledge that it isn’t even true, I will not purchase some pretty paper. His 20 minute life is worth a REAL star name to commemorate his time on earth with his family surrounding him. Thank you so much.

  87. Stu:

    I bought a binary star certificate as an anniversary gift for my wife. I was fully aware of what I was doing (I have been around a while and am naturally skeptical). I thought briefly about printing up my own certificate, but the gesture meant a lot to her (and to me). I know it could be classified as foolish, but I felt that printing my own would be less meaningful, in a way. I do like some of the suggested alternatives posted by others, such as donating to a charity in the person’s name.

    I majored in math and have a healthy collection of science and engineering courses behind me, but I guess I still have a very active sentimental side. For what it’s worth, I think your well argued points do people a service. I don’t think of it as being a party pooper necessarily. I feel badly for the people you have had to reveal the truth to.

    I think that science (and truth) has a way of making people feel extremely small sometimes, or even insignificant. While that fills some with wonder at the awesomeness of the universe, it turns others away. Perhaps this is at least one of the sources for the flak you have received here.

    Anyway, great article…I especially appreciate the advice on telescopes, and will definitely go with binoculars first. By the way, I have added your site to my favorites, and I look forward to studying astronomy.

    Regards,
    Brad

  88. Hey Phoenixpics, is there actually a way I can buy a star, constellation and or Moon and rename it? I’m not as crazy as the guy who claims he owns the moon but I’m legitimately curious.

    Let’s for arguments sake say I’m a multibillionare like Mark Zuckerberg, could I in theory buy my way into renaming a star within a Constellation recognized by Astronomers?

  89. How about if I file to have a loved one’s name legally changed to Arcturus?

    • Nice piece of lateral thinking, Ryan.

      Perhaps you could start a Web site offering to do just that for people. At a price. At least it would be honest.

  90. I know the star is not renamed. But my grandkids have a telescope. They keep up with sky eclipses, movement of the planets and observe stars, planets. Milky Way and planets clost to us at the time. They know the star will not change its name but will only be something for them to find and to look into that star Is this hsrmful

    • No, but it is pointless. They can do exactly that without you having to pay con artists for selling you an overpriced piece of paper. It’s the dishonestly of these people that’s being highlighted here and the disappointment that’s likely to ensue when the people who fall for the con find out the truth.

      There are plenty of free template certificates out there on the Web (e.g: http://tinyurl.com/zp3b49h). Find one you like the look of, edit it and print your own certificate for them. That is, if you or they really need a piece of paper to mark the occasion when you chose a point of light in the night sky that you’ve decided to treat as special to you and them.

  91. I read this because I was thinking of buying a star. I already knew they werent forever named that by the astronomy world. The thing is I think people struggle on certain occasions to find the right gift or ‘thing to do’ so they end up thinking of buying a star. I have a person I need to buy a gift for and it needs to be thoughtful and appropriate and reasonably cheap and they are old so its very very hard to buy for them. Being old I wonder if I could get away with the star as they would probably never research. But if they did and found your blog 😦 When you said about people thinking of buying a brick in the great wall or block in the great pyramid etc, I think its a missed opportunity. The governments who own these wonders of the world could set a legal legitimate website and sell those names to be forever on those bits. The stars in the galaxy are constantly evolving but as you say they all have locations and you pointed out when people are given these certificates the location of their “star” is often mentioned. Who does get to name these stars? The one who first sees them? Where do the actually official names for them come from? Could the actual official map creators etc make a legitimate database so they could all be named? We name storms and its accepted worldwide why not a singular database for stars? I would not stop someone doing anything that took away some of the grief and pain from losing someone and if naming a grain of sand in the dessert did it so be it. If they were charging thousands of dollars I would feel differently but its a small price to pay if it gives some comfort or says in a nice way that someone else was feeling their grief and did something ‘thoughtful’ to say they cared!

  92. Stu – I did exactly what you said and googled “name a star”. Your blog entry came up on why I should not do this and you have sufficiently convinced me that this is probably not the best way to spend my money. That being said, (and maybe I missed it in all the comments above) do you have any recommendations for a worthy charity where I might ‘adopt a star’ and have my donation go to a good cause?
    Just curious as I am new to all of this.
    thanks!

  93. Informative and we’ll written, Thanks

  94. I was planning to buy a star for someone who means the world to me. So the star would be there after he is no longer with us, but I thought it’s too cheap and I looked online and saw your post. Thank you so much for everything you said, they take advantage of people. I only wish there was a way to actually name a star after him.
    Thank you again.

  95. Thank God I came across your blog, was about to buy a star all in. So we can tell grandkids that grandma has a star. Doing research etc… Myself and your blog has saved me time and money, thanx for info x

  96. God help any would-be astronomer’s out there who seek you for advice. I bought every niece and nephew I have a starter telescope, and now they (all 7) go out together 2 times a month to look at stars together-and they are in their early 20’s. Your blog is colored by your own experiences not based on the experience of he average novice astronomer. Anyone who reads this article, please disregard the advice on telescopes.

    • Thanks for your comment Kevin, I appreciate you taking the time to give feedback. You’re right, of course, my post was very much colored by my own experiences – what else would I base it on? I’m really pleased your nieces and nephews enjoyed their telescopes and got good use out of them, and continue to enjoy astronomy. However, I have had lots of personal experience of a more negative nature, hence my post; every year, without fail, I get post-Christmas phone calls or emails from people wanting to sell a telescope they gave or were given as a gift, but were frustrated by, and many of these were given as gifts to absolute beginners. However, I do accept that it is time to update that post – it’s very old! – because there are some really good starter telescopes available now, much better quality than the ones which were around when the post was originally written, so I’ll revisit it and take heart from your positive experiences, thank you.

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