See Saturn and Mars tonight!

Saturn
Saturn

Tonight the beautiful, ringed planet Saturn, the red planet Mars and the red star Antares all form a line in the sky. Saturn’s easy to spot in the night sky, so get out your telescope and show your whole family this magnificent jewel of the solar system!

Here’s how to find Saturn and Mars tonight: Look for the three points of light you’ll see together toward the south-southwest this evening.  Antares — a bright, red star in the constellation Scorpius — will be at the bottom, Mars in the middle, and Saturn at the top.

Antares, Mars and Saturn in Scorpius
The bright star Antares, and the planets Mars and Saturn the evening of August 24, 2016

If You’re in the Southern Hemisphere

If you’re in the southern hemisphere of Earth look for Antares, Mars and Saturn over your north-northwestern horizon the evening of August 25.


Did you know you can use the Moon to find constellations in the night sky? Follow us on Twitter where we post information each day about what constellation (area of the night sky) the Moon is in that evening.

Name A Star Live offers some really good tools to learn about the night sky and find your star’s constellation. Visit our website to learn about our Virtual Planetarium software, planisphere constellation finder, and First Light Astronomy Kit!

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

See the best shooting stars of the year!

The best display of shooting stars this year occurs around mid-August.  This display is called the “Perseid meteor shower.”

In this article we’ll discuss what a meteor shower is, the mythology behind the “Perseids,” how to view the meteor shower, and when to view it.

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

Continue reading “See the best shooting stars of the year!”

Making you part of real space missions!

Name A Star Live is the only star naming service that launches your star name into space: We make you part of real space missions! Imagine naming a star for a family member, a friend or an employee and letting them know their star name will actually fly in the Final Frontier! Is that cool or what?

Viewing a launch at Cape Canaveral
Viewing a launch is an exciting experience — especially when your star name is on board!  Image Credit: NASA

Missions currently scheduled for this year

We have two missions currently scheduled for liftoff in 2016:

1.) The Starseeker Flight — a flight from Spaceport America, New Mexico in November; and
2.) The Heritage Flight — a flight into Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida — the cradle of the American space program — in the fourth quarter of the year.

You can attend the launch in person or watch it online. After each mission we provide you a letter-size, Digital Launch Certificate that you can download and print.

Launch Certificate
Your Launch Certificate will display your star name & information about the launch.

The flight from Spaceport America will follow a trajectory like the early NASA spaceflights in the 1960s: Your star name will fly into space and return to Earth.

You’ll be able to track the Earth orbital flight from Cape Canaveral live, online as the satellite carrying your star name orbits our home planet!

Satellite ground track
You’ll be able to track your star name’s flight online as the satellite orbits Earth.
Spaceport America, New Mexico
Spaceport America, New Mexico

Please note that launch dates can change for a variety of reasons, so please check our online Launch Schedule often to get the latest launch news. Also, please note that while we are often able to provide a live webcast of our launches, sometimes webcasting from remote locations like Spaceport America can prove to be a challenge. In any event, we post launch video as soon as possible after each launch.

Naming a star makes for a wonderful, timeless gift for a birthday, anniversary, graduation, Christmas or other occasion. While star naming is a symbolic gesture, Name A Star Live makes it real by including your star name on board rockets that carry scientific or commercial payloads. Learn how, exactly, we do this…

Name a star today!

Jupiter near the Moon tonight!

Family stargazing
Stargazing makes for family fun, and tonight’s a good night to see the planet Jupiter near the Moon!

The mighty planet Jupiter will appear very close to the crescent Moon tonight (Friday, July 8, 2016). Jupiter’s easy to spot in the night sky, so get out your telescope and show your whole family the king of the planets!

Here’s how to find Jupiter tonight: Look for the bright ‘star’ just above and to the left of the thin, crescent Moon. Both the Moon and Jupiter are in the constellation Leo this evening.

Jupiter and the Moon
Jupiter and the Moon as viewed from the northern hemisphere on July 8, 2016

Scientists believe Jupiter has 67 moons. You can easily see four of them through a telescope. But because they move so quickly around Jupiter, you may not see all of them at once: It just depends on when you look.

Jupiter and its four large moons
Jupiter and its four largest moons as viewed through a powerful amateur telescope. Image Credit: Michael Stegina/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

If You’re in the Southern Hemisphere

If you’re in the southern hemisphere of Earth Jupiter then you’re in luck! Jupiter will appear even closer to the Moon the night of July 9, 2016. Just look west-northwest shortly after sunset. Jupiter will appear just above, and to the right of the Moon.


Did you know you can use the Moon to find constellations in the night sky? Follow us on Twitter where we post information each day about what constellation (area of the night sky) the Moon is in that evening.

Name A Star Live offers some really good tools to learn about the night sky and find your star’s constellation. Visit our website to learn about our Virtual Planetarium software, planisphere constellation finder, and First Light Astronomy Kit!

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

Celebrating our Centennial Flight anniversary

Centennial Flight launch
Launch of Name A Star Live’s Centennial Flight, June 2013, Spaceport America, New Mexico

This is the third anniversary of the launch of Name A Star Live’s Centennial Flight, which was named in honor of the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood. The launch took place at Spaceport America, New Mexico and carried the star names and messages of our customers into space! Name A Star Live is the only star naming service that makes you part of a real space mission.

Like the clients of our sister company, Celestis memorial spaceflights, Name A Star Live customers had the opportunity to tour the launch pad and mission control, view the liftoff, meet Name A Star Live company personnel, and enjoy the many tourist attractions and the beautiful scenery of New Mexico, which is known appropriately as the “Land of Enchantment.”

A coupleSo many people wrote such nice Star Certificate messages for this mission! Below are some of the flown messages from our customers’ Star Certificates. Note that we’ve changed the names in these messages to protect our customers’ privacy:

  • This is to let you know that not only will you always hold a place in my heart, but you will forever have your own place in the sky. I love you.
  • You are such a light to me, reflecting and pointing to the heart of God. Here’s to celebrating the last year, and us! 🙂
  • This star shall shine as long as our love will last. 🙂
  • Love begins in a moment, grows over time, and lasts for eternity.
  • Congratulations on your Bar Mitzvah! – What a joyous occasion that you will remember for the rest of your life.
  • I name this star after Mary J. Smith on the Date of our wedding; may this star always shine bright in the heavens like the love she shows me shines in my heart forever
  • Happy Birthday Grandpa! Now your amazing legacy will live on forever as your star shines in the night’s sky. I love you so much.
  • Happy 25th Anniversary! All these years and you bring such love and light into my life…our lives. You fill my heart with gratitude and joy.
  • Just look at the stars and we’ll remember that we are always there for one another. Pure Joy is the only thing that can describe our friendship and sisterhood.
  • I wanted to give you a gift that would always be there as a shining remembrance of Janet.

The mission flew aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle, which has flown each of Name A Star Live’s missions out of Spaceport America. The spacecraft followed a trajectory like that flown by the astronauts on NASA’s early Gemini missions by flying into space and, after experiencing the zero gravity environment, returning to Earth. The Centennial Flight flew to an altitude of 73.9 miles (118.9 kilometers) and landed at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) downrange.

This was the 12th overall spaceflight of our parent company, Space Services, Inc. You can always find the latest information about our upcoming missions by visiting our online Launch Schedule.

Here is a short video of the Centennial Flight launch provided by Celestis:

Top Ten Father’s Day Star Messages

Father and DaughterFather’s Day is Sunday, June 19 in the U.S., Canada, Japan, China, India, the U.K., Ireland, Mexico and many other countries.  Here are some of the Father’s Day messages Name A Star Live customers have included on their Star Certificates.  (Of course, we’ve changed the names in the messages to protect the privacy of our customers.)

  1. I have named a star just for you, papa.  Please show me where it is so I can always look up into the heavens and think of you when I see it.  I love you!
  2. My daddy has loved the night sky since he was a boy, a passion he has passed down to me. Now I share my love for him by claiming his very own piece of that sky, another beautiful thing for us to share together.
  3. We searched heaven and earth to find the perfect gift for the man who has everything and at last we found it.  So in honor of Father’s Day, we present you with your very own star.
  4. Everyday we think of you and the good memories we have because of you. You are sacrificing for us and we appreciate that very much. To bridge the distance this Father’s Day we send you this gift. We love you so much and wish you a happy fathers day.
  5. Ursa Major: the “big bear” of the sky, because you have always watched over your little cubs 🙂 Happy Father’s Day Dad!
  6. This star is forever in the sky to celebrate your very 1st Fathers Day.   Happy Fathers Day, I love you
  7. I will never forget wishing on stars with you as a little girl. Here’s to all the past, present and future wishes we make. Happy Father’s Day, I love you.
  8. Happy Father’s Day.  Thank you for every single thing you have done for me over the course of my life.  I know you love space, now a small part of it is named after you.  Love, Mike
  9. This is for the Greatest Dad in the Universe.
  10. To my stargazing husband.  You are my star of 21 years.  I love You!

Name A Star Live is the only star-naming service that launches your star name into space: Won’t dad be surprised! The video above shows our latest spaceflight, The Tribute Flight. See our online Launch Schedule….

Name a star for Father’s Day!

See Saturn throughout June

 

Saturn
Saturn

This is a wonderful time to see the beautiful, ringed planet Saturn, which reached “opposition” this month. You can see Mars and Jupiter too!

“Opposition” just means that Earth is directly between Saturn and the sun – Saturn and the sun are on opposite sides of Earth. So Saturn rises in the east as the sun sets in the west. With Saturn at opposition, you can get a very good look at Saturn all month.

Saturn at opposition
Saturn and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth in June. You can get a good view of the ringed planet all month! Image Credit: NASA

Saturn will be in the constellation Ophiuchus throughout the month. Ophiuchus is one of the constellations of the zodiac, like Aries, Taurus and Cancer. But it’s the one constellation of the zodiac not used for birth signs.

Saturn and Mars
Saturn and Mars in June’s night sky as viewed in the northern hemisphere

If you live in the northern hemisphere of Earth, look for Saturn toward the southeast about an hour or so after sunset. It will be the bright point of night just to the east of the bright constellation Scorpius. If your telescope is powerful enough, you will be able to see the dark gap in the rings known as the “Cassini division,” named after the French astronomer Jean D. Cassini who discovered the gap in 1675. While you’re checking out Saturn with your telescope, take a look at nearby Mars: If you look closely, you may see Mars’ ice cap!

Saturn and Mars
Saturn and Mars in June’s night sky as viewed in the southern hemisphere. You’ll find Saturn and Mars over your eastern horizon after sunset.

 

Fun Fact!

Saturn is the basis for the “Father Time” figure we see every New Year.

Father Time
Father Time traces its origins to Saturn from Roman mythology. Image Source: Pinterest.com

Father Time is usually depicted as an old man carrying a harvesting scythe, usually with the baby New Year. Actually, this association of Saturn with Father Time is an historical error that can be traced back to at least the Renaissance when the Roman god Saturn was mistakenly confused with the Greek god Chronos, god of time. Saturn was the Roman version of the Greek god Cronus, which sounds a lot like Chronos! So it’s easy to see how the two names could be mixed up! Just to be clear:

  • Cronus was the ancient Greek god who was the father of Zeus, king of the gods. The Romans adopted Cronus and renamed him Saturn, and adopted Zeus and renamed him Jupiter. In other words, Saturn was the father of Jupiter.
  • Chronos was the ancient Greek god of time. (We get the word “chronological” from Chronos.) But the names Cronus and Chronos were confused during the Renaissance (if not earlier), and the  Father Time figure was thus associated with Saturn by mistake.

See Saturn’s son Jupiter this month too!

Jupiter
Jupiter is in the constellation Leo throughout June. If you’re in the northern hemisphere of Earth, look for Jupiter and Leo toward the west-southwest shortly after sunset.

Jupiter, the son of Saturn and king of the gods, is also the name of the king of the planets. It’s easily seen in the constellation Leo throughout the month of June. Jupiter will be the brightest object in Leo this month — except when the Moon passes by!

Jupiter and Leo
Jupiter and Leo as viewed from the southern hemisphere of Earth. Look for Jupiter over the north-northwestern horizon shortly after sunset in June.

Did you know you can use the Moon to find constellations in the night sky? Follow us on Twitter where we post information each day about what constellation (area of the night sky) the Moon is in that evening.

Name A Star Live offers some really good tools to learn about the night sky and find your star’s constellation. Visit our website to learn about our Virtual Planetarium software, planisphere constellation finder, and First Light Astronomy Kit!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

The Night Sky of May 2016

The skies of May 2016 provide some wonderful celestial delights. Read on to see what you can see in the night sky this month!

Mars
Mars, the “Red Planet”
See the planet Mars in the night sky in May: The brightest it’s been in over a decade!
Mars opposition
Mars and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth on May 22, which makes for a great opportunity to view the red planet! Image Credit: NASA

Mars reaches “opposition” on May 22, reaching peak visibility for 2016. In fact, Mars will appear brighter than it has since 2005. “Opposition” just means that Earth is directly between Mars and the sun – Mars and the sun will be on opposite sides of Earth on May 22. So during that evening Mars will rise in the east as the sun sets in the west. On May 30 Mars will reach its closest approach to Earth for the year. The two planets will be only 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers) apart – that’s about half of the distance between the Earth and the sun. Continue reading “The Night Sky of May 2016”

Our green, name-a-star space launches

Astronaut in Earth orbit
Name A Star Live makes you part of a real space mission!

Name A Star Live is the only star naming service that launches your star name into space! But did you know that our space missions are eco-friendly?

Our launches don’t pollute the atmosphere.
Here is how our launches work: 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. Those rockets will fly with their primary payloads whether we’re on board or not. It’s like we are car-pooling — perhaps “rocket-pooling” — into space.

Apollo 17 View of EarthOur missions don’t pollute outer space.
Our spacecraft are carefully designed so as not to create orbital debris. Each Earth-orbiting spacecraft stays permanently attached to a rocket stage that orbits Earth until the spacecraft harmlessly re-enters and is completely consumed by Earth’s atmosphere — blazing like a shooting star!

For missions that are launched aboard a commercially purchased launcher, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration issues a license that verifies that our payload does not contribute to orbital debris. For missions not subject to FAA approval, we voluntarily follow the same guidelines that prevent orbital pollution from our missions.

Save money – and the Earth – with our Instant Gifts!
Name A Star Live offers two types of gift sets:

  • Keepsake Gifts are printed and shipped to you (or to your gift recipient).
  • Instant Gifts are provided to you via the Internet: You download your letter-size Star Certificate and any other documents you may add on. You can then print these documents, or display them on your computer, digital photo frame or other device. The PDF documents you download are the same PDF files we would use to print and ship a Keepsake Gift to you. So you get the same quality documents, but because we don’t physically ship them to you, we’re not using packaging or burning fossil fuels to deliver your gift.

Our Earth Orbit missions launch out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This video shows the significant natural habitat that adjoins the high tech launch facilities at the Cape and at the Kennedy Space Center.