Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory

Astronomy FAQ

Star Purchasing

I have heard that you can buy a star and have it named after a loved one. Is this true?
Some companies make this claim, but they have no more authority than you do to name a star. Astronomers use established catalogues to identify stars by catalogue numbers or by celestial coordinates. The brightest stars in the sky do have names, but these names date back well over 1000 years and are used by tradition. Most of the stars that a star naming company will "sell" are very dim, requiring a telescope and very dark skies to find. No astronomer will ever acknowledge the names used by a star naming company.

I have already purchased a star from a star naming company. Have I been ripped off?
You certainly may feel that way if you have been misled. The various star naming companies have no more authority to name stars than you, and some may not make that point very clear. However, the value that you get from the purchase may still be high if you have some sentimental meaning attached to it. In this case, it is truly the thought that counts.

I have purchased a star/had one purchased for me. Can I come to the planetarium or observatory and see my star?
Often such stars are very faint -- too faint to see even with most telescopes. The stars are almost always too faint to be seen in planetariums, since planetariums only show stars visible to the unaided eye. In some cases, the star isn't even visible from Toledo. For these reasons, we cannot show such stars. If you would like some information about the constellation that star is in, we would be happy to point it out to you during or after a public planetarium show.

Even so, I am still interested in purchasing a star. Can you give me a phone number or web address for one of the star naming companies?
We do not have or keep information on how to contact star naming companies.

Last Updated: 6/27/22