In the world of professional astronomy and astrophysics, only the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has formal authority in naming celestial bodies and celestial features.

Sushant Singh Rajput does not have star named after him
Flix Cinema Monday, July 13, 2020 - 15:51

It is well known in showbiz and Bollywood circles that actor Sushant Singh Rajput had a keen interest in astronomy and space science. There are plenty of stories about his love for telescopes and passion for sky gazing. However the latest media frenzy over film fans buying a star named after their favourite actor is totally fake and baseless.

There were lots of press stories reporting this touching gesture from his US-based fans striking a deal and buying a star name in his honour by paying money to some random firm which is formally unconnected with professional astronomy or astronomers.

In the world of professional astronomy and astrophysics, only the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has formal authority in naming celestial bodies and celestial features. There are many scammers and fraudsters globally who claim to legalise formal names of celestial bodies like stars, comets, asteroids, exoplanets and so on by monetary transactions. A detailed advisory on this matter is given by International Astronomical Union at this link

The formal statement from the IAU says: “In the past, certain such enterprises have suggested to customers that the IAU is somehow associated with, recognises, approves, or even actively collaborates in their business. The IAU wishes to make it totally clear that any such claim is patently false and unfounded. The IAU would appreciate being informed, with appropriate documentation, of all cases of illegal abuse of its name, and will pursue all documented cases by all available means.”

The IAU adds: “Thus, like true love and many other of the best things in human life, the beauty of the night sky is not for sale, but is free for all to enjoy. True, the 'gift' of a star may open someone's eyes to the beauty of the night sky. This is indeed a worthy goal, but it does not justify deceiving people into believing that real star names can be bought like any other commodity.”

One does understand the sentiments and love of fans for their idol but it is important to note that a system for buying such celestial names for money does not exist (for good reasons) in today’s formal astronomical systems. Hence diehard fans should aim not to waste their precious money on such whimsical fanfare.

If celestial names and bodies get sold out for money, then there will be millions on Earth who would use it and abuse it for their own selfish reasons. Hence IAU (formal body of affiliated astronomers in the world) wisely distances itself from any such shallow enterprises. As they say, you can’t put a price on the beauty of the cosmos! Sorry to break this, but stars aren’t for sale like real estate on Earth!

The author, Dr Aswin Sekhar, is a full voting member of International Astronomical Union and an affiliated astronomer at IMCCE, Paris Observatory, France.

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