Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Name A Star For A Loved

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By Shelly Murdock

Some people dread the thought of shopping for gifts because they have no idea what the recipient might appreciate the most. Relatives are especially difficult to buy for after years of giving holiday gifts and birthday presents. One way to break out of the gift giving rut is to name a star for a loved one or cherished friend.

This gift is suitable for people of all ages and occasions. It can be the ideal way to welcome a new infant to the family or remind a grandmother of how much she is loved and appreciated. Gifts often get lost in the crowd during weddings, baby showers and first birthdays, but this gift is different.

This gift is in no danger of getting lost or broken. The recipient needs only to look up in the sky to remember the thought that went into purchasing this gift. Other gifts may provide short-term satisfaction but the stars are never going away.

Astronomers at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Institute catalog the hundreds of thousands of stars in the universe using a unique number. Those numbers make up a database of stars called the Universal Star Catalog. Individuals registering names receive the unique numbers associated with their stars, photos, dedication dates and telescopic coordinates. The unique number allows the recipient to retrieve data online. Naming packages feature a certificate of registry and some include certificate frames or holders. A chart with the star's location highlighted is also included with some purchases.

Individuals may use whatever naming convention they want. Some choose first names while others go with last names or even nicknames. The dedication date may be a birthday, an anniversary, or any date as specified by the individual completing the registration process.

Individuals have the option of choosing their star's general location in the sky. It is possible to choose a location within a specific constellation corresponding to the recipient's zodiac sign. Another option is to select a star that is visible from a specific city. Two stars near each other can represent siblings or soul mates.

Mechanisms are in place to ensure the database remains in place in perpetuity. An endowment pays for storing the catalog forever. Very few gifts last a lifetime but this one really does. Individuals looking for a unique gift can name a star quickly and easily in honor of a family member or cherished friend.

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