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This Holiday Give the Gift of a Star

It's that time of year again. Valentines Day is fast approaching and you are at a loss as to what to get for the love of your life. You have already learned the hard way that Valentines Day is NOT the time to buy her a frying pan or a vacuum cleaner, but what can you do to show her just how special you think she is? Candy? Boring! Flowers? Nah! Perfume? Not again. What you want is something special and clever and unexpected. Take a look on line and you'll find that there are dozens of companies out there that for a fee will be happy to help you out by naming a star after your beloved. Those fees range anywhere from twenty-five dollars up to over a hundred dollars, In return for your hard earned money you will receive anything from a simple piece of paper showing that you named a star in her honor to elaborate maps and certificates some even come framed.

The gesture is sweet. It's not your every day ordinary gift. It paves the way to other gifts, like a nice telescope (all the better to see her star!) It clears the way to a romantic evening sitting on the balcony with soft music in the background sipping wine and gazing up at "her" star. Stars have been named by Hollywood celebrities for their significant others; they have been named in memory of loved ones and heroes lost. They have been named for parents, children, favorite teachers and even pets.

However, before you decide this is the perfect gift you need to understand one thing - it is a novelty gift. It is not going to be recognized by any official organization and there is nothing stopping twenty other companies from naming that same star for dozens of other people. There is not going to be an official book anywhere that has an entry of your star, its location and its name. That is not to say that some of the sites don't actually keep a record of the stars they "name" and publish their own "book". Just that it isn't officially recognized by any astronomer's organization anywhere. At best some of the more ethical websites do state that it is a novelty gift, but not too many explain that by novelty they mean it isn't in any way shape or form official. None of the sites will tell you that only the International Astronomical Union can officially name stars and other objects in space and with the exception of a small number of extremely bright stars they are all given numbers not names. Many of the sites work very hard to make naming a star sound like a bona fide, official actual entry into a log of all the stars. That is not to say it isn't still a clever gift that can be appreciated and enjoyed, particularly if the recipient happens to have an interest in astrology or just enjoys an excuse to curl up with a glass of wine and do a little star-gazing with the love of her life. Just know what you are and are not buying.

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