Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The "Name a Star" Scam

This from Forbes:
"A Star Is Named"

At least half a dozen companies will sell you the rights to name a star, along with a handsome "official" certificate and a sky chart that shows your star's location. Prices range from $25.95 to $139. The catch: The International Astronomical Union is the only organization with authority to name celestial bodies. Most stars get numbers and coordinates, not names--less poetic, perhaps, but a good deal easier to locate.
One of my kids heard the radio ad you've all heard--"Name a star after someone you love!"--and planned to do that for her boyfriend's birthday. I had to burst her bubble. She really thought she was having a star named after him.

It really irritates me that they fool regular people like her with this pretense--and the radio stations, always ready to be the conscience of public figures, play these ads without any conscience of their own, or sense of obligation to the listeners...

The especial sticking point for me is the breathless assertion that "your star name will be recorded in a book and registered with the Library of Congress!" This is done specifically to give listeners the impression that this somehow makes it "official," whereas anyone in the publishing business knows that every single book published in the United States has to be "registered" with the Library of Congress by law, and a free copy sent to the Library of Congress -- which ends up throwing away most of its copies as not worth putting in the Library. (In fact, one problem they have it people who self-publish a dozen copies of their autobiography--which doesn't qualify as "publishing" for registratin purposes - but who insist on registering with the Library of Congress - and send a useless copy of the book in to D.C.)

Now if you KNOW this is just a scam, you can go ahead and spend your hundred bucks so you can get the cute certificate and the nifty sky chart and, as long as you and your loved one know it's not official, enjoy the *thought* -- which is that as far as you are concerned, your loved one SHOULD be in the stars, forever and eternally. Which is worth far more than any official organization could ever offer!

But that's not what they're doing, and they know it. Just my opinion, but my opinion is pissed off.....!

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