How to pay for Astronomy

January 25, 2008

Name A Star Gift Box Keen readers may remember me uncovering the Great Armenian Star Naming Rip Off. Now Waterstones are at it too. Today in Princes Street, I was depressed to find them selling “name a star” gift sets for £20. You also can get this wondrous product direct from Gift Republic. Inside you find the co-ordinates of your star. You invent a name and register this, and periodically Gift Republic submit their information to the British Library. Coo. Well that sounds important.

Interestingly, the box I saw in Waterstones had some tiny small print which does not appear on the web site. This said, roughly “..this will not necessarily be recognised by any official scientific organisation… this is a novelty gift and should be taken as such.” This made me much more relaxed. If anybody is dumb enough to read that and still cough up twenty quid then its their own fault.

Why not start up our own, and covenant all the profits to the Gemini Observatory ? We could do a much better job. There could be a premium rate for special objects like cataclysmic variables. People could pay a monthly fee to get gamma ray burst alerts within 10 degrees of their star. There could be a discount rate for a thousand objects at a time. Or maybe we charge £5000 for a complete open cluster. We could guarantee annotations in the SuperCosmos Science Archive.

Does this count as Knowledge Exchange ?