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 it is 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: 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 will receive 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!

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!

 

Shooting Stars in Orion!

The Orion Meteor Shower peaks the morning of Saturday, October 21, 2017. In this article we’ll discuss what a meteor shower is, 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 in a comfy lawn chair and look up — no telescope needed!

Meteor Showers 101

Halley's Comet
Halley’s Comet left a lot of dust particles in its wake: Every year, Earth flies through those dust particles, which burn up in our atmosphere as “shooting stars.”

Shooting stars are meteors — small pieces of dust in space that quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The dust particles for the Orion meteor shower (or “the Orionids” for short) are leftover bits of Halley’s Comet. As the Earth orbits the Sun, every year at about this time we pass through the dust left behind by Halley’s many visits to our neck of the galactic woods.

Orion
The most prominent stars of the constellation Orion. Image Credit: NASA

It’s called the “Orionids” because the shooting stars in this meteor shower all appear to fly toward us from the constellation Orion. In classical mythology Orion was a hunter, and is depicted in astronomy as a man wearing a belt of three stars, holding a shield with one arm, and holding a club with his other arm to fight the constellation Taurus (the bull). He’s alternatively depicted as a hunter about shoot an arrow at Taurus.

How to view the meteor shower

So consider going outside under the night sky with your significant other, and make some wishes upon every shooting star you see! No telescope or binoculars needed: Just bring along a lawn chair or long towel on which to lie down. You might want to bring along some food and drink and, depending on where you live in the world, either some mosquito repellant or warm clothing. Then, just look up.

When to look for the Orionids

Under perfect conditions — a clear sky, far from city lights, and viewing just before dawn the morning of October 21 — you might see as many as 20 shooting stars per hour. But you can still see an above average number of shooting stars no matter what time of the night you look. And you should be able to see an above-average number of shooting stars from now through the first week of November.

Clear skies to you!

Fall begins!

Fall begins at 4:02 pm in Eastern, 3:02 pm Central, 1:02 am Pacific, 8:02 pm GMT on September 22, 2017. Here in the northern hemisphere this is called “fall equinox.”

“Equinox” means equal night, because the Sun is exactly over the equator, the Earth’s terminator runs exactly from pole to pole, with all parts of earth receiving 12 hours of daylight and 12 of dark… but wait!  Look at your newspaper.  The time from sunrise to sunset on Sept 23 is actually LONGER than 12 hours, by about 6-7 minutes.  Why?

Equinox
On an equinox, sunlight falls directly over the Earth’s equator.  The “terminator” — the line dividing daylight from nighttime — runs vertically from pole to pole.

Answer:  Actually the answer has two causes.  One is the finite size of the sun.  Sunrise is defined as the first part of the Sun peeking over the Eastern horizon, and sunset as the last part of the Sun slipping below the western horizon.  This is twelve hours PLUS the time that the Sun takes to move its width across the sky.  The Sun is a half-degree across and the Earth rotates 15 degrees per hour (360 degrees in 24 hours), so the Earth rotates a half-degree in two minutes.  So two minutes of the difference is just from the finite size of the Sun.   What is the rest?   REFRACTION.

Light refracts when passing through a medium.  If the medium is uniform, light just slows down a little. But if the medium is not uniform in density or thickness, the light bends.  Since the air is more dense near the Earth’s surface, the light moves more slowly there than in higher elevations, causing the wave front to tip forward, following the curvature of the Earth.  So we actually see the sun BEFORE it actually breaks our horizon, and we see it for a few minutes after sunset too..  And that’s the other 5 minutes!  The refraction depends on the air temperature, surface temperature, etc, but in general is just larger than the diameter of the Sun – we see all of the Sun before any of the Sun really is above the horizon!

More info: www.weather.gov/cle/Seasons and www.timeanddate.com/calendar/september-equinox.html

View the Solar Eclipse anywhere on Monday!

Everybody’s talking about it. It’s going to be one of the most spectacular astronomical events in American history! On Monday, August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse will be visible along a narrow path going across the U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. But did you know that you can see at least a partial eclipse that day no matter where you live in North America? And, of course, no matter where you live in the world, you can watch it online.

Global eclipse map
On August 21 people throughout North America, Central America and northern South America will see at least a partial eclipse of the Sun, weather permitting. Image Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

As viewed from land, the total solar eclipse (“totality,” where the Moon completely covers the Sun) begins near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. PDT (1:15 p.m. EDT). Totality ends at 2:48 p.m. EDT near Charleston, South Carolina. That roughly 70-mile wide path is represented by the darkest line in the image above. But those above and below the path of totality can see a partial eclipse of the Sun, weather permitting. Continue reading “View the Solar Eclipse anywhere on Monday!”

See shooting stars this weekend!

The famous “Perseid meteor shower” peaks this coming weekend! In this article we’ll discuss what a meteor shower is, the mythology behind the “Perseids,” 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 “See shooting stars this weekend!”

The Saturn Opposition

Saturn
NASA image of Saturn

What has Saturn ever done to us?

No, there’s not an insurgency planning to take action against the planet Saturn!  Rather, this month Saturn will be at what astronomers call “opposition,” which is a great time to observe the beautiful ringed planet. On June 15 (June 16 for those of you in Australia, Japan, China, India and other parts of the eastern hemisphere), Saturn will be at opposition, meaning Saturn will be on the opposite side of the sky from the sun: When the sun sets that evening in the west, Saturn will rise in the east. Really, all of June and into July is a great time to see Saturn.

For the best view, wait until at least two hours after sunset to look at Saturn through a telescope.  (Before then, you’ll be looking at Saturn through the thicker layers of Earth’s atmosphere near the eastern horizon.) So get out your telescope and take a look at the beautiful ringed planet this summer!

Viewed from the northern hemisphere…

Saturn
Saturn rising in the east during the evening hours of June. (View from the northern hemisphere of Earth.) To the right is the bright star Antares of the constellation Scorpius. Saturn will be near Antares all summer.

Viewed from the southern hemisphere…

Saturn
Saturn rising in the east during the evening hours of June. (View from the southern hemisphere of Earth.) Above is the bright star Antares of the constellation Scorpius. Saturn will be near Antares all summer.

11 Earth's could fit across JupiterIn addition to Saturn, you can see the giant planet Jupiter in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo this month. Viewed through a telescope, you may see up to four of Jupiter’s largest moons. And did you know that 11 Earth’s could fit across the width of Jupiter?

Viewed from the northern hemisphere…

Jupiter
Jupiter will be over your southern horizon after sunset, near the bright star Spica and the constellation Corvus.

Viewed from the southern hemisphere…

Jupiter
Jupiter will be over your northern horizon after sunset, near the bright star Spica and the constellation Corvus.

 


Get our Moon Tweets!

The Twitter Moon
Our Moon Tweets let you know what constellation the Moon is in each night.

Our Moon Tweets let you know when the Moon is in a Name A Star Live constellation.

Did you know you can use the Moon to identify where your star’s constellation is in the night sky? Follow us on Twitter where we let you know when the Moon appears in a Name A Star constellation (area of the night sky).

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 and planisphere constellation finder!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Use the Moon to find Jupiter this Sunday!

On Sunday, May 7 you can use the Moon to find the planet Jupiter!

Jupiter and the Moon
Jupiter will be the brightest ‘star’ nearest the Moon the evening of Sunday, May 7, 2017. The gas giant and the Moon will be in the constellation Virgo that night.

Through a telescope you may see up to four of Jupiter’s largest moons.

Jupiter and Jovian Moons
Jupiter and its four largest moons as viewed through an amateur telescope

Furthermore, if you have a good telescope, you may make out some of the prominent horizontal cloud bands across the surface of the King of the Planets. You may also see up to four of Jupiter’s largest moons — the “Galilean satellites” — named after Galileo Galilei, who discovered them in 1610. These four moons move very quickly around the planet. In fact, if you observe them shortly after it gets dark, be sure to draw a diagram of where the moons are in relation to Jupiter. Then, observe the moons again a few hours later: If you do, you’ll notice the moons have moved significantly between your two observing sessions.

Fun facts about our solar system’s largest planet:

11 Earth's could fit across Jupiter
11 Earth’s could fit across Jupiter
  • If Earth were the size of a nickel, the gas giant would be about as big as a basketball, which in turn would make LeBron James a heck of a lot taller than he is now! 🙂
  • Earth has one moon, Jupiter has 67
  • The largest moon of Jupiter, Ganymede, is larger than the planet Mercury
  • Jupiter’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium  — like a star!
  • The Great Red Spot could contain 2-3 planet Earths
  • Earth rotates every 24 hours, the king of the planets rotates every 10 hours
  • Earth revolves around the Sun once a year, Jupiter takes 12 years

Get our Moon Tweets!

The Twitter Moon
Our Moon Tweets let you know what constellation the Moon is in each night.

Our Moon Tweets let you know when the Moon is in a Name A Star Live constellation.

Did you know you can use the Moon to identify where your star’s constellation is in the night sky? Follow us on Twitter where we let you know when the Moon appears in a Name A Star constellation (area of the night sky).

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 and planisphere constellation finder!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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!