See the planet Mars!

A heart-shaped surface feature on Mars.
From Mars, With Love. This heart-shaped pit on the surface of Mars was photographed by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor.

Pull out your telescope and look to the skies above, for this is a good time to see the planet Mars as the famous “Red Planet” is near what’s called “opposition.”  This means that Mars and Earth are close to one another in their orbits around the Sun.  (See diagram below.)

Name A Star Live diagram of Mars at opposition
At opposition Mars and Earth are at their closest approach to one another in their orbits around the Sun. (Note that this diagram is not to scale.)

It’s called “opposition” because, when viewed from Earth, Mars and the Sun appear at opposite sides of the sky at sunset: on the day of opposition, Mars rises over the eastern horizon just as the sun sets over the western horizon.  While the Mars opposition was January 29, 2010, you can get good views of Mars throughout February.

If the star you have named is in the constellation Cancer then you’re in luck, for Mars is in the constellation Cancer as well for the next few months:  If you find Mars, then you’ve found the constellation Cancer!  Mars appears as a rather bright, reddish-orange object in the eastern sky during the first few hours after sunset this month.

Mars
Hubble Space Telescope image of Mars Credit: David Crisp and the WFPC2 Science Team (JPL/CIT), and NASA

If you have any trouble finding the planet, just use your Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software, which is included in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets.  Also, you can view Mars through the SLOOH online telescope — Name A Star Live is the only name-a-star company to offer SLOOH.

Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to view the Red Planet as Mars oppositions occur only about once every 26 months.

Top Ten Valentine’s Star Messages

Each Name A Star Live Gift Set includes a letter-size star certificate that displays the name of the star, astronomical information about the star, and an area where you can include a brief personal message for your gift recipient.

Here are some notable Valentine’s messages our customers wrote in January (we’ve changed the names to protect our customers’ privacy):

  1. There are not enough stars in the sky to compare to the love that I will always have for you.   Happy Valentine’s Day, my beautiful Roger.
  2. Happy Valentine’s Day! This is to celebrate our first Valentine’s together.  Remember me every time you gaze at the stars – yours will be the brightest and most beautiful of them all =)    I love you.
  3. No star could ever compare to you.  I love you so much.
  4. To the woman that means the world to me. I give you this star as a sign of my love for you.   My love extends to our star and back again. I love you, always and forever yours…
  5. To the one whom I love most in this galaxy… Forever my wife.   Happy Valentine’s Day!
  6. Kiss me and you will see Stars.   Love me and I will give them to you.
  7. For our first Valentines.  Every time I am away I will look up in the night sky and see your star and think of you.  Always…
  8. You are everlasting in my heart.   Every time you think of your star, remember, like the stars, my love for you endures forever.
  9. I love you more than life. You are my world, my one true love, and my shining star.
  10. Mi Amor, I Love you so much.
Name A Star for Valentine's Day!

Be sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook pages where we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things Name A Star Live!

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February 2010 Constellations

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky.  Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations.  Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use the World Constellation Map below to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight) in February. Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star.  (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!)  But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

Name A Star Live world map

DIRECTIONS: Find your approximate location in one of the horizontal bars on the map, and then note the corresponding red number (1-7).  Then find your number in the list below to identify what Name A Star Live constellations you can see this month from your corner of the world.

1. Those of you in northern climes can see Andromeda, Aries, Cancer, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Orion, Taurus, Ursa Major (where the “Big Dipper” is) and Ursa Minor (where the “Little Dipper” and the North Star are located).
2. Andromeda, Aries, Cancer, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Leo, Orion, Taurus, Ursa Major  and Ursa Minor are visible.
3. Andromeda, Aries, Cancer, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Leo, Orion,  Taurus, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are visible.
4. Look for Aries, Cancer, Gemini, Leo, Orion and Taurus this month.
5. Aries, Cancer, Gemini, Leo, Orion and Taurus are visible this month.
6. Cancer, Leo, Gemini and Orion are visible.
7. Orion is visible.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software.  A planisphere is another useful device.

November 2009 Constellations

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky.  Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations.  Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use the World Constellation Map below to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight) in November. Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star.  (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!)  But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

constellation_map2

DIRECTIONS: Find your approximate location in one of the horizontal bars on the map, and then note the corresponding red number (1-7).  Then find your number in the list below to identify what Name A Star Live constellations you can see this month from your corner of the world.

1. Those of you in northern climes can see Andromeda, Aries, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Pisces, Taurus, and Ursa Minor, where the “Little Dipper” and the North Star are located.
2. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Orion, Pisces, Taurus  and Ursa Minor are visible.
3. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Orion, Pisces and Taurus are visible.
4. Look for Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Gemini, Orion, Pisces and Taurus this month.
5. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Orion, Pisces and Taurus are visible this month.
6. Aries, Pisces, Orion and Taurus are visible.
7. Aries, Orion, Pisces and Taurus are visible.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software.  A planisphere is another useful device.

Here’s a neat image from the Hubble Space Telescope of a beautiful object that can be seen from just about anywhere in the world at this time of the year:

The Pleiades
M45, The Pleiades Star Cluster

Located in the constellation Taurus, the Pleiades Star Cluster (designated “M45” by astronomers) is one of the most famous and beautiful objects in the night sky.  The Pleiades, which can be seen without the aid of a telescope,  are often confused with the Little Dipper due to the arrangement of the Pleiades’ brightest stars in a ladle-like formation.  While, using the naked eye, we can distinguish anywhere from six to nine stars in the Pleiades (depending on local observing conditions and one’s eyesight), in reality M45 has approximately 500 stars located about 400 light-years from Earth.

The Pleiades are also known as “The Seven Sisters” that represent the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione from classical mythology.  The story goes that when Orion attempted to burst into the private sanctuary of the sisters’ home, Venus turned them into a flock of doves so they could fly away to safety.

The Aborigines also interpreted this group of stars as a cluster of young girls. These girls were seen as musicians who played for a group of boys, which are represented by the stars that are seen in the Belt of  Orion.

The Zuni people of North America called the Pleiadies “seeds” because the first appearance of the Pleiades helped the Zuni decide when to plant their crops. The Zuni also knew that when the Pleiades moved directly overhead in the early morning it was time to harvest what they had planted, because the winter was coming soon.

The Japanese word for this set of stars is “Subaru,” after which the famous Japanese car company is named.  In fact the Subaru corporation’s logo is patterned after M45.

November’s Planets

Jupiter still dominates the evening skies this month: For those of you in the northern hemisphere of Earth, look for the bright, steady light towards the south shortly after sunset.  For those of you in the southern hemisphere, look for Jupiter towards the north shortly after sunset.

You earlybirds in the northern hemisphere will see Mars almost due south (almost due north for those of you in the southern hemisphere) shortly before sunrise this month.  Regardless of where you live, Saturn will be above the eastern horizon before sunrise in November.

New Zealand launch coming up!

One of the ways Name A Star Live makes star-naming real is by launching your star name into space: You become part of a real space mission! Our last launch was in May 2009 from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Our next launch will occur on board Rocket Lab’s new Ātea-1 rocket — the first rocket to launch into space from New Zealand.

Atea-1 engine testThe Ātea-1 is a two-stage vehicle capable of carrying payloads of 4.4 lbs (2 kg) up to 75 miles (120 km) altitude. The rocket is a sub-orbital vehicle, meaning it carries its payload into space and then returns to Earth. The picture at left is of a recent engine test.

Rocket Lab Ltd. is designing its rockets to be environmentally-friendly. An average car produces approximately 2,000 kg of C02 per year, (based on 5,000 miles of traveling). A single Ātea rocket produces under 14 kg of C02 per launch.

All Name A Star Live customers who have purchased before November 16, 2009 will have their star names and Star Certificate personal messages on board this launch. After the launch occurs we will provide you a Launch Certificate via e-mail, certifying your participation in this historic space mission!

Launch is projected to occur the week beginning Nov. 30 (New Zealand time), which is Nov. 29 in the United States. The exact date and time is weather dependent. Please see our Launch Schedule Web page for the latest launch news.

Top Ten Star Messages

Each Name A Star Live Gift Set includes a letter-size star certificate that displays the name of the star, astronomical information about the star, and an area where you can include a brief personal message for your gift recipient.

Here are some notable messages our customers wrote in October:

  1. Because you are a star to us and you deserve your place in the constellation!  Happy Birthday and may you have many more years of good health, happiness, and peace.
  2. You are a “star” in many ways.  Thank you for your caring and professional support.
  3. God has given you a future as bright and limitless as the stars.    Love,  Mom and Dad
  4. Merry Christmas Baby.  Now when  you look up at the stars you can know that one of them is yours.  No matter how bad your day is, you can always look up and know I am there for you.
  5. Happy one year anniversary!   I wanted to name this star after you so that you always think of me when you look up at the night’s sky.  I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you.
  6. “I love thee, I love but thee with a love that shall not die till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old.” – William Shakespeare
  7. Sis,  “When twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star, remember that you have a friend though she may wander far.”  Sisters forever.
  8. This is one of your early Hannuka presents as you wished.  Don’t lose sight of your star for it will look over you and keep you safe forever
  9. You are not only one of Grandma’s very loved stars, but now you are a shining star in the entire universe.    Love forever,  Texas Grandma
  10. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!    My love for you will last as long as the stars shine in the heavens.    Love,  Jane

Be sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook pages where we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things Name A Star Live!

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Happy one year anniversary!   I wanted to name this star after you so that you always think of me when you look up at the night’s sky. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you.

Top Ten Star Messages

Each Name A Star Live Gift Set includes a letter-size star certificate that displays the name of the star, astronomical information about the star, and an area where you can include a breif personal message for your gift recipient.

Here are some notable messages our customers wrote in September:

  1. You are the sweetest, cutest thing in the universe.
  2. A girl with your beauty needs to have a place in this world forever.  Inside and out you’re beautiful.  I love you.
  3. May your life always shine as brightly as your star.  Happy 50th!
  4. You truly are the best guy for me. I know that you could not love me any better. You always surprise me with how sweet you are and I am so lucky to have someone like that in my life.
  5. Know that wherever you go, wherever you are,  Daddy’s Guiding Light will be there to lead you.
  6. These stars symbolize our everlasting love. They will be together forever and always, and just like our love; never faltering, and always true.
  7. We’ve named a star for your Mother.  “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky,  but rather openings where our loved ones   shine down to let us know they are happy.”
  8. To my niece on her baptism, I love you til all the stars burn out!
  9. Now even when we are apart I can look to the stars and be with you. May it shine just like its namesake.
  10. “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”  – W.T. Ellis

Be sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook pages where we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things Name A Star Live!

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October 2009 Constellations

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky.  Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations.  Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use the World Constellation Map below to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight) in October. Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star.  (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!)  But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

constellation_map2

DIRECTIONS: Find your approximate location in one of the horizontal bars on the map, and then note the corresponding red number (1-7).  Then find your number in the list below to identify what Name A Star Live constellations you can see this month from your corner of the world.

1. Those of you in northern climes can see Andromeda, Aries, Cassiopeia, Pisces and Ursa Minor, where the “Little Dipper” and the North Star are located.
2. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Pisces and Ursa Minor are visible.
3. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia and Pisces are visible.
4. Look for Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Cassiopeia, Pisces and Sagittarius this month.
5. Andromeda, Aquarius, Aries, Capricorn, Pisces and Sagittarius are visible this month.
6. Aquarius, Capricorn, Pisces and Sagittarius are visible.
7. Aquarius, Capricorn and Sagittarius are visible.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software.  A planisphere is another useful device.

Here’s a neat image from NASA of a nearby galaxy in the the constellation Andromeda:

m31
The "Andromeda Galaxy" (M31)

On a clear, moonless night — far from city lights — you can see the Andromeda Galaxy with your naked eye: It will appear as a fuzzy blob of light in the constellation Andromeda.  The Andromeda Galaxy is located relatively close to our own galaxy, the “Milky Way,” at a distance of 2.9 million light years, meaning it takes light from the Andromeda Galaxy almost three million years to reach us.

BTW, we’re on a collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy:  Eventually the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies will collide.  But don’t worry — the collision won’t occur until billions of years in the future!

Top Ten Star Messages

As part of our launch of this Name A Star Live blog, we are including a monthly feature where we list the top ten interesting messages our customers have included on their star certificates during the past month.  (Of course, we remove the names and other personal information from the messages before posting them here.)   Each Name A Star Live Gift Set includes a letter-size star certificate that displays the name of the star, astronomical information about the star, and an area where you can include a breif personal message for your gift recipient.

Here are some notable messages our customers wrote in July:

  1. To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.  You are a star to me.  I love you!
  2. Thank you for your “out of this world” performance!
  3. This is just a little gift to demonstrate my love for you and that our love will always be in the sky, somewhere, living among the many other wonders of this universe.
  4. This star is dedicated to our marriage.  This star will forever sparkle, as our love for each other.  I love you.
  5. Congratulations on 30 years together!  May your star shine brightly forever.  All my love.
  6. In loving memory of your priceless little star.  May she long watch over you both until you all meet again….  With our sincerest condolences.
  7. Hope you had a beautiful christening!  May you always shine as bright as your star.  We love you!
  8. To the one I love the most in this galaxy.  Happy first year anniversary.
  9. Happy Birthday Star Lady!!!
  10. The Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and Mars,  Galaxies, Comets, Planets, and Pulsars,  All, my dear Gran, will be blessed by the star  I’ve named after you, the best Gran by far.

Be sure to check out our new Twitter and Facebook pages where we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things Name A Star Live!

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August 2009 Constellations

Want to see where your star is in the night sky?

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky.  Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations.  Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use the World Constellation Map below to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight) in August. Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star.  (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!)  But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

World Constellation Map
World Constellation Map

DIRECTIONS: Find your approximate location in one of the horizontal bars on the map, and then note the corresponding red number (1-7).  Then find your number in the list below to identify what Name A Star Live constellations you can see this month from your corner of the world.

  1. Sorry, no constellations visible this month: Too much daylight!  But check back in September when some of our constellations will be visible.
  2. Ursa Minor’s visible, especially toward the end of August.  Capricorn and Sagittarius are visible as well, although they are low on the horizon.
  3. This is a great month to see Sagittarius — Scorpius too!  Ursa Minor and Capricorn are visible as well.
  4. Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpius and Ursa Minor are visible (although Ursa Minor’s very low on the northern horizon!).
  5. Capricorn, Libra, Sagittarius and Scorpius are visible.
  6. Capricorn, Libra, Sagittarius and Scorpius are visible.
  7. Capricorn, Libra, Sagittarius and Scorpius are visible.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software.  A planisphere is another useful device.

Hey, here’s a cool image from the constellation Sagittarius:

trifid_nebula
The Trifid Nebula in the constellation Sagittarius (Credit: NASA)

Nebulae are clouds of dust and gas.  Many nebulae — like the Trifid Nebula — serve as stellar nurseries, where stars are born.

Be Sure to See Jupiter This Month

This August is a prime time to see the massive planet Jupiter.  It’s at “opposition” in mid-August, meaning the Earth is between the sun and Jupiter, and Jupiter is at its brightest.  Jupiter’s easy to find with the naked eye:

  • If you’re in the northern hemisphere of Earth, Jupiter is the very bright object that you’ll see toward the southeast during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight).
  • If you live in the southern hemisphere of Earth, Jupiter will appear in the northeast during the evening hours.

If you have a telescope, the best time to see Jupiter is in the late evening hours, close to midnight.  At that point Jupiter is high in the sky, above the thicker layers of the atmosphere found near the horizon: You’ll get a much crisper view of Jupiter if you observe it when it’s high in the sky.  You might see as many as four large moons orbiting the planet.

BTW, if your star is in the constellation Capricorn then you’re in luck: Jupiter is also in Capricorn right now.  So just find Jupiter and you’re looking at your constellation.

Jupiter and one of its moons.  Three Earth's could fit inside the Great Red Spot, pictured here.  (Credit: NASA)
Jupiter and Io, one of the giant planet's four largest moons. Jupiter is so big that three Earth's could easily fit inside the Great Red Spot, which is pictured here. (Credit: NASA)

For you early birds, the planets Mars and Venus are visible  this month in the east before sunrise.