Mesrop Mashtots in star naming rip-off

August 22, 2007

Day Three at the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting here in Yerevan, Armenia. This afternoon there was only the business meeting of the European Astronomical Society. I thought this …… sounded just a tad … well … zzzzzzzzz …….snnnrrrgggghhh ….zzzzzzz….snnrrrgghhhh … zzzz.. snnrgg-uh ! wuh ? Oh, sorry, where was I ? Anyway, so I decided to goof off and do some tourism.

Amongst other things I visited the Madenetaran, a museum housing thousands of ancient books and manuscripts. As well as lots of beautiful illuminated manuscripts, I was stunned to find, proudly displayed in a glass case, a certificate announcing that a new star had been registered with the “International Star Registry”, in honour of Masrop Mashtots, the fifth century bishop who invented the Armenian alphabet. That’s so depressing .. a museum actually fell for this “name a star” scam …. I wonder what they paid ?

The certificate is a masterpiece of deception, implying its all very official. It says that the star is in one of the 88 constellations officially recognised by the IAU (err.. there is one that isn’t ?), and that the name and “telescopic co-ordinates” of the new star are being placed in “Your Place in the Cosmos, Volume V”, and that this volume has been placed in the Library of Congress and the British Museum. Err.. yes… along with every other book ever published.

Then you see the star will also be registered with the “International Star Registry Vault” in Zurich. Wuh ? This lovely certificate is signed by the Richard L Ney, the president of the International Star Registry, 146 Deer Creek Road, Fredonia, Texas.

Oh and people who have also registered a star also include the Queen of ENngland, Bill Clinton, and Boris Yeltsin. Wow.

Francoise Genova will also be pleased, as the certificate clearly states that all new stars are catalogued in Strasbourg.