The Best Shooting Stars of the Year

The best display of shooting stars all year — the annual “Geminid meteor shower” — is going on now! Although the peak occurs over the evening of Saturday, December 14, a bright Moon will interfere with this year’s Geminids, meaning that only the brightest Geminid shooting stars will be visible. In this article we’ll discuss what a meteor shower is, how to view the shooting stars, and when to view them.

Watching a meteor shower
The best way to view a meteor shower is to lie back and look up — no telescope needed!

Continue reading “The Best Shooting Stars of the Year”

The Info on Your Star Certificate

Star Certificate
Name A Star Live Star Certificate

All Name A Star Live gift sets include a letter-size Star Certificate that displays the name of your star, what the star is named in honor of (such as a graduation, an anniversary, love, Christmas, Valentine’s Day), the star’s registration date, a personal message you write for your gift recipient, and the astronomical coordinates of your star. Continue reading “The Info on Your Star Certificate”

How to Download Your Launch Certificate

1. Visit the My Sky section of the Name A Star Live website at  mysky.nameastarlive.com/Account/LogOn

2.

My Sky login page
The “My Sky” section of the Name A Star Live website.
  • If you created an account with us before, log in with your username and password. If you don’t remember your password, you can create a new one. NOTE: Please do not create a new account now and expect to find your Launch Certificate — the system does not work that way.
  • If you did not create an account with us in the past, then use the “LOOKUP BY ORDER NUMBER” option. You will find your order number in the extreme, lower, right-hand corner of your Star Certificate. You’ll also find this number in your e-mail receipt we sent you at the time of purchase.
Star Certificate
Your Order Number appears in the extreme, lower, right-hand corner of your Star Certificate, highlighted in red here.

3. You should automatically be taken to the “My Stars” section of the site. If not, click on either of the “My Stars” links in My Sky.

My Sky webpage
The “My Stars” links are highlighted in red in this image.

4. Now that you’re in “My Stars,” click on the “LAUNCH CERTIFICATE” link.

My Stars section
In the My Stars section, click on the “LAUNCH CERTIFICATE” link.

5. A popup box will appear. Click on “Download Certificate” next to the mission of your choice, e.g., “Heritage Flight.” Note that only the mission name(s) that your star name flew on will be displayed. A letter-size PDF file will then download to your computer. For the best effect, we recommend printing this letter-size PDF document on glossy or photographic paper. You may print this document as many times  as you wish.

Click on the "Download Certificate" link.
Click on the “Download Certificate” link.

How We Launch Your Star Name Into Space

Name A Star Live launch
Name A Star Live launch on an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket from Spaceport America, New Mexico

Name A Star Live launches your star’s name into space, and provides you a launch certificate after each launch occurs.  We’re operated by Space Services, Inc. – a real aerospace company that has been launching payloads into space since 1982. No other Name A Star company has such a record of space launch success.

We’re often asked by our customers how, exactly, we launch the star names.

First, we launch more than just your star’s name: We launch all of the unique information from your Star Certificate, including the star’s name, what the star is named in honor of, the star’s registration date, the message you write for your gift recipient, the star’s astronomical coordinates and your order number.  We save all of this information in our database of stars — our star register, or “archive of star names”: Your star will be assigned the name you give it, and will never be assigned any other name in our star register.

Star Certificate
A Name A Star Live star certificate

Second, for each mission we save our star database onto a data storage device.  We then ship this device to the facility where the rocket is assembled.  Technicians integrate the device into the rocket as a “secondary payload” — we ‘piggyback’ on rockets that carry scientific or communications “primary payloads” into space.  The technicians must integrate the device into the rocket weeks, or even months before liftoff.  So there necessarily is a delay between the time you name your star and the time your star name and other related information are launched.

Chip
Name A Star Live flies its customers’ star names into space using a data storage device, much like NASA did using this chip when it included people’s names on the Mars Curiosity rover.

Scheduling a rocket launch is not like booking a flight on an airplane.  While airline flights may be delayed a few minutes or hours due to weather or other flight delays, normally your airplane flight will take off from your airport at least on the same day your flight is scheduled for departure.  In contrast, rocket launches often are delayed for days, weeks, months or even years due to a variety of technical or other reasons inherent in spaceflight.  You can find information about our upcoming missions by visiting our online launch schedule.

Third, depending on the mission, your star name will:

  • Fly on a brief trip to space and return to Earth,
  • Orbit the Earth (as an “orbital archive”),
  • Fly to the Moon, or
  • Fly into deep space.

In most cases you can attend each launch in person!  Our parent company, Space Services, Inc., has had payloads launched from locations around the world, including: Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Spaceport America, New Mexico; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; New Zealand; and the Marshall Islands.  But if you can’t join us for the launch, you can usually view the launch live via webcast.

No matter the mission, after each liftoff you can download a letter-size, Digital Launch Certificate confirming that your star name flew in space.  This is provided to you via the Internet: You can even order a Printed or Framed Launch Certificate.  This certificate displays your star’s name and astronomical coordinates, as well as information about the launch.

Launch Certificate
A Name A Star Live launch certificate

Launching your star’s name and other details into space is part of what sets Name A Star Live apart from other star-naming companies: Through our launches, we make the symbolic gesture of naming a star a real and exciting experience!

Mothers in the Sky

Andromeda and Cassiopeia
Cassiopeia and Andromeda — Two constellations (areas of the night sky) named after mothers from classical mythology. You can name a star in either constellation!

Naming stars for our mothers is popular today.  In fact, many objects in the night sky have been named after mothers for thousands of years.  And now mothers fly among the stars as astronauts!

The Name A Star Live constellations Andromeda and Cassiopeia are named after two beautiful mothers from classical mythology.  Cassiopeia, the Queen of the Ethiopians and the mother of Andromeda, was a prideful woman who boasted that she was more beautiful than the female attendants to Poseidon, the god of the sea.  For this transgression Poseidon punished Cassiopeia by sending a sea monster to attack Cassiopeia’s country and to kill Andromeda.  But Andromeda was saved and would later have seven children of her own.  Now both mothers travel together in the heavens above as the constellations we know them by today.

Continue reading “Mothers in the Sky”

Top Ten Mother’s Day Messages

 

Name A Star Live's "Star Bear"
Name A Star Live’s “Star Bear”

As you’re thinking about what to get your mother for Mother’s Day, you might be interested in some of the Mother’s Day messages Name A Star Live customers have included on their Star Certificates. Below are some of the best messages we’ve received. Of course, we’ve changed the names in the messages to protect the privacy of our customers.  We hope these examples will give you some ideas about what to write for your mom.

Have a happy Mother’s Day!

  1. Thank you for being the star of my life!
  2. To my mommy, I love you to the moon and back.
  3. Your wisdom and knowledge have shown us the way, and we are thankful for you as we live day by day.  We don’t tell you enough how important you are, in our universe you’re a bright shining star.
  4. Happy Mother’s Day, Alice! I love you and I can’t wait to meet our son!
  5. The Mother’s Day star will always be in the sky for you – Happy Mother’s Day. Thanks for loving us, no matter what. The Mother’s Day star never fades
  6. As the stars in the sky are countless, so too are the ways you’ve helped me, encouraged me, and showed me your love.    Happy Mother’s Day! I love you!
  7. For my amazing mother who loves unconditionally, and gives wholeheartedly. I love her with all of my heart, and all of my soul.
  8. A star is like a mother’s love, bright, beautiful, warm and everlasting; your star will shine forever in the far above, for you deserve the light it will always be casting.
  9. To the best mum in the world, you really are a star.  We will always love you!
  10. Happy Mothers Day!!! I am so proud to be your son, you are such an amazing woman and I am truly thankful for everything you are and do.  You are my hero, best friend and an amazing mother.

Name a star for your mother this Mother’s Day!

Top Ten Valentine’s Day Messages

A heart in spaceAs you’re thinking about what to get your significant other for Valentine’s Day, you might be interested in some of the Valentine’s Day messages Name A Star Live customers have included on their Star Certificates. Below are some of the best messages we’ve received so far. Of course, we’ve changed the names in the messages to protect the privacy of our customers.  We hope these examples will give you some ideas about what to write for your loved one.  Have a happy Valentine’s Day! Continue reading “Top Ten Valentine’s Day Messages”

Love is in the stars!

 

Heart of the Milky Way
Credit: ESO/J. Girard (djulik.com)
There is a lot to love about astronomy, and photographer Julien Girard offers a “heartfelt” example in this image. A bright pink symbol of love appears to float ethereally against the backdrop of the night sky over the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. Girard drew the heart in the air by shining a tiny flashlight keychain at the camera during a 25-second exposure with a tripod.

The central region of the Milky Way appears in the middle of the heart, as the plane of our galaxy stretches across the image. The stars of the constellation of Corona Australis (The Southern Crown) form a glittering arc of jewels at the top of the heart’s left lobe. The diffuse glow to the left of the heart’s lowest point is zodiacal light, caused by the scattering of light from the Sun by dust particles in the Solar System.

On the far right horizon, the 8.2-metre telescopes of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility stand out in silhouette atop Cerro Paranal. The lights of a car driving down from the observatory platform can be seen just to the left of the telescopes.

Julien Girard is an ESO astronomer based in Chile, who works at the Ver Large Telescope (VLT). He is the instrument scientist for the NACO adaptive optics instrument on the VLT’s Unit Telescope 4. He submitted this photograph to the Your ESO Pictures Flickr group, from where it was picked out as an ESO Picture of the Week.

Antenna Galaxies

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgement: B. Whitmore ( Space Telescope Science Institute) and James Long (ESA/Hubble).

Colliding galaxies make love, not war

This Hubble Space Telescope image of the Antennae galaxies is the sharpest yet of this merging pair of galaxies. As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. The brightest and most compact of these are called super star clusters.

Heart on Mars
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This picture of a heart-shaped pit on Mars was taken on February 26, 2008 by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It is approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and is centered near Mars’ equator. The pit is one of many adjacent to Hydaspis Chaos, a jumbled topographic depression thought to have formed by collapse of the surface due to—perhaps—catastrophic release of groundwater.

A Valentine's Day asteroid
Credit: NEAR Project (JHU/APL)

Just in time for its Valentine’s Day 2000 date with 433 Eros, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft snapped this photo during its approach to the 21-mile (34 kilometer)-long space rock. Taken Feb. 11, 2000 from 1,609 miles (2,590 kilometers) away, the picture reveals a heart-shaped depression about 3 miles (5 kilometers) long. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory – which manages the NASA mission – processed the image on Feb. 12, 2000.

Spooky Sights and Sounds from Outer Space!

October’s the month for Halloween, and Name A Star Live can help you get in the mood for trick-or-treating! Here are some spooky sights and sounds from outer space.

First, let’s set the scene with some scary space sounds! Before scrolling down this webpage any further, turn up your speakers or headphones, and start this video of some eerie sounds from Saturn:

Let’s start with a witch who resides just outside the Name A Star Live constellation Orion:

The Witch Head Nebula
The Witch Head Nebula. Image Credit: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

As frightening as this witch may be, no need to fear: She’s about 800 light-years away, and so won’t be casting any spells on us for a long time to come! She’s actually a giant collection of dust particles that is reflecting light off of a star named “Rigel” in Orion.

The Ghost Nebula
The Ghost Nebula. Image Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts — especially when they’re 1,200 light-years away! This phantom of the night haunts the constellation Cepheus, which borders the Name A Star Live constellations Cassiopeia and Cygnus.

The Ghost of the Sisters
The Ghost of the Seven Sisters. Image Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA), George Herbig and Theodore Simon (University of Hawaii)

This ghost is located a little closer to Earth, at 380 light-years away in the Name A Star Live constellation Taurus. It’s part of the Pleiades star cluster (a.k.a. “The Seven Sisters”), which many people confuse with the Little Dipper. Let’s hope this ghost doesn’t get any closer to Earth!

Ghost Head Nebula
The Ghost Head Nebula. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Observatoire de Paris) et al.

The Ghost Head Nebula, or NGC 2080, is a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way Galaxy visible from the southern hemisphere of Earth. The nebula spans about 50 light-years across.

Black Widow Nebula
The Black Widow Nebula. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Wisc.

What’s Halloween without spiders? The Black Widow Nebula hangs in her web in the southern hemisphere constellation Circinus. But arachnophobes have no fear! This spider from the depths of space is actually a stellar nursery. In this Spitzer Space Telescope image, the two opposing bubbles are being formed in opposite directions by the powerful outflows from massive groups of forming stars. The baby stars can be seen as specks of yellow where the two bubbles overlap.  So upon seeing the Black Widow nebula, instead of screaming shouts of terror, we should say, “Aw, how cute!”

Mimas and the Death Star
The Death Star from “Star Wars,” and Mimas, moon of Saturn. Image Credits: Pinterest.com and NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Much closer to home than any of the nebulae presented above, Mimas — a moon of Saturn — appears ready to blast Earth out of existence! We better keep a close eye on this scary menace!

Jack-O'-Lantern Sun
The jack-o’-lantern Sun. Image Credit: NASA/SDO

Finally, we wish you a Happy Halloween with this solar image showing active regions on the Sun that combined to look something like a jack-o-lantern’s face on October 8, 2014.  This image blends together two sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these spooky sights and sounds!