First of all, the truth of the whole business of all these companies offering packages and services for star buying is that nobody really and actually owns the rights to any of these stars.
Some people think that if they want to buy stars and have the rights to name them, they could just go to NASA. But NASA does not sell rights to any stars much less buy and name them for any person whatsoever.
The organization that really has the legal rights to how the star is registered officially with a name is the International Astronomical Unit or AIU, and they do not sell the rights to stars either. This is the official body that actually has the rights to the stars and they have an International Astronomical Union’s Small Bodies Names Committee which holds the responsibility of discussing and deciding which names to give a particular star.
It is this committee which handles the lists of all the stars, or asteroids that have been discovered as of late and this collection is also put under their responsibility when it comes to giving these burning gases of outer space their designated names.
The process of buying stars and presenting them as gifts to loved ones through plaques or certificates that bear the gift-giver’s dedication to the receiver is done by companies offering packages or services that claim that these stars can be named and these even come complete with the star chart, a guide or manual, and the particular star’s coordinates.
However, in the official registry, these names will not be recognized. It is only the IAU which can give the official names to these stars and usually the nomenclature process is a rigorous one and is handled by the Small Bodies Names Committee.
The system recognizes names that have been used for centuries especially the names that have been given to some of the oldest stars by the ancients. There are, of course, some stars that have actually been allowed to have names and some of these include names from icons of pop culture. (i.e., The Beatles). However, for most of the other stars to be discovered, the traditional way of naming these stars is by designating numbers.
This is because of their sheer amount. There are billions of stars in the sky and so far about 12, 000 have been formally recognized by the IAU. It has been decided that for purposes of accuracy, and for efficient use by the scientists, the utilization of the numbering system should be applied instead of the literal naming system.
The process goes like this: the person or scientist who discovers the star is allowed to make a name suggestion and must then make this proposal and defend it in front of the panel which is the Small Bodies Names Committee of IAU. The authorities of this panel have definitive guidelines to follow for the giving of names to stars and they will be the ones to hold the final decision on how the star is registered.
There is actually an official catalogue of stars which contains the real names and classifications of stars that are officially recognized starting from the ancients or the historical catalogues up until the present.
So, what is the use of “buying” stars from commercial institutions and then “naming” them if it weren’t official?
It’s actually an act of sentimentality and really quite romantic if you really come to think of it. Some recipients of such an honor of being given this sort of gift are really happy with it.
The companies claim it is a “novelty gift” and it is not rights to the stars that they are selling but the opportunity for being able to give a special person such an equally special and unique gift.