What is Star Naming?

iau star naming

What is Star Naming?

Star naming is an excellent way to show someone you care about or yourself. You can name your star after your favorite pet, TV character, movie character or even a deceased loved one – the possibilities are endless!

Star names are an integral part of astronomy and culture, so it’s essential to be familiar with the rules for naming stars. This article will give you insight into what you can and cannot do when selecting a name for your star.


Star names are assigned by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) according to strict rules that guarantee global uniqueness for every star. This system was created with one goal in mind: making astronomical data easily accessible for scientists while maintaining a global heritage of star names with deep cultural roots across cultures.

The International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Star Names is responsible for compiling and approvating traditional star names that have been used throughout different cultures. Their purpose is to preserve cultural diversity while making it simpler for people to locate, describe, and discuss any star in any language.

Star names on this list range from ancient, such as Sirius, to more recent. Regardless, all have been officially approved by the IAU for official use.

Star names are essential for people to know, especially when discussing astronomy or space exploration. Astronomers use these names to locate objects in the sky and pinpoint their position relative to one another.

Star names can also be used to help identify exoplanets circling other stars. Indeed, in December 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) revealed a new set of star names selected from 112 countries to commemorate their 100th anniversary and honor the legacy of this esteemed institution.

Although some controversy exists regarding the legality of iau star naming, there are no specific regulations or laws that prevent companies from selling stars to customers. Furthermore, the organization lacks any employees or officers that could be considered police or prosecutors.

Many people consider star naming to be deceptive and morally wrong. Some even go so far as to call it fraud or a form of scamming. Unfortunately, there is still uncertainty as to what action government organizations with mandates for consumer protection can take if any.

No amount can truly measure the emotional toll that someone feels when they discover that a star they paid for was not really named after them, or worse, their loved one. This is especially true if the star was “named” in memory of a deceased child or family member.


For decades, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been recognized as the authority in astronomy for assigning designations to celestial objects – including stars. It has developed several systematic naming systems designed to be as precise and unambiguous as possible.

Many of these naming systems have a long-standing tradition. Some star names, like Sirius, had been around long before the modern naming system was invented; other designations, like M31, were approved by the International Atomic Organization in the early 20th century.

As the IAU has expanded and intensified its work, so too have the number of newly named stars. Today, it lists over 227 stars that were selected through a semipublic process or by committees composed of astronomers from different cultures.

In addition to names, each star is assigned a Bayer designation, visual magnitude and coordinate system that enables astronomers to identify it by constellation. This system makes it simple for them to locate an object using their telescope.

Many are intimidated by the intricate world of astronomical naming, but others are eager to help out. This can be a wonderful opportunity to contribute to science while exercising your creative side.

Uwingu is one such example; they’re launching a planet name contest that could have far-reaching impacts on astronomy. It is aboveboard, creating significant public interest and raising money for science research and education initiatives.

Uwingu’s list contains both traditional star names that have been in use for centuries and those invented more recently and adopted more recently.

The IAU is undertaking a long-term initiative to collect ancient star names from around the world, including Arabic, Greek, Latin and Indian. The objective is to preserve astronomy’s cultural diversity while making it simpler for astronomers to locate and describe any sky object.

This project will take years of hard work to finish, and during that time the star name may change as different astronomers uncover new sources for its meaning or origins.


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the internationally-recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and any surface features on them. To do this, submissions must adhere to established themes and guidelines.

The IAU also has a dedicated Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), which is responsible for cataloguing historical and cultural star names as well as creating guidelines and rules for new star namings. To date, WGSN has approved 227 stars’ names, and it is currently working to compile and disseminate an official IAU Catalog of Star Names.

In addition to star names, WGSN is currently exploring the astronomical literature for historical and cultural names from regions not yet included in the IAU Catalog of Star Names. They are particularly interested in ancient celestial titles from groups in North America, Africa, Australia and Polynesia.

However, if you are from the public and wish to name a star, it is essential to know that the International Astronomical Union does not give out individual or organizational names for stars. They only assign proper names for bright stars like Sirius or Arcturus, as well as Bayer or Flamsteed designations for less bright ones.

If you are an accomplished scholar or astronomer, then getting a name assigned for a star may take an extended period of time and be quite complex. Alternatively, you could pay a private service provider to christen your star for you.

Beyond not following the IAU, some companies may also christen your star with a name that has nothing to do with its actual location in the sky. In such cases, you could get stuck with an entirely artificial star that exists nowhere in reality!

Additionally, many people have had their personal and financial information stolen by these companies. This can be a costly experience for those affected as they would need to go through court proceedings in order to receive their money back.


Many companies will let you name a star for an additional fee, typically between US$35 for standard stars with normal brightness to US$180 for very bright binary stars. Prices for these services can range considerably depending on which service you select.

Astronomers use catalog numbers or names for most stars in order to locate and identify them in the sky. Often these names come from ancient civilizations and are based on myths or deities.

However, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is not the official naming authority for any celestial object. Instead, astronomers assign names to celestial objects based on a set of guidelines they follow – rules designed to help astronomers discover and comprehend a wide variety of celestial bodies from planets to galaxies.

These naming rules are essential, as they guarantee scientists can study an object and its properties without getting into trouble. Furthermore, these guidelines prevent astronomers from misidentifying or confusing an object.

Some services promise to provide you with a map or atlas indicating where your star is in the sky, as well as a certificate stating that it has been given your desired name. Unfortunately, these aren’t official astronomical documents and you won’t have any legal rights to the name you select.

If you decide to utilize one of these services, it is essential to know that the IAU dissociates itself from any commercial practice of “selling” fictitious star names, surface feature names or even “real estate” on other planets or moons in our Solar System. Instead, their role is to guarantee accurate identification and classification for celestial bodies.

There are some legitimate star-name companies, and if you exercise caution, it should be possible to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. They tend to be located in either the United States or European Union and backed by lawyers with expertise in consumer law. Be wary when dealing with these types of companies!

They often promise that your new star name will be included in books or other published documents, but this is usually just a sales pitch and it’s highly unlikely any professional or amateur astronomer will use the star you have named for their work.

Scroll to Top