My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

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Cousin Ricky
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My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Cousin Ricky » Sun May 08, 2016 2:30 am

I volunteer at public nights at the local observatory. At public night last November, I met my first International Star Registry victim.

This guy’s star was in Lynx. Unfortunately, Lynx was low in the sky, over suburban lights, and the Moon was waxing gibbous. I am unfamiliar with Lynx, and there was no way I would be able to star hop the constellation under those conditions. The amateur roboscope on hand was not equipped to locate arbitrary coordinates. (The observatory scope could not be used because the recalibration for public viewing was cannibalizing to much research time.) After diplomatically cautioning the guest that the ISR was not an official agency, I told him to return in a couple of months—if public night was scheduled on a moonless night—when Lynx would be higher in the sky.

The guy never showed up again, or if he did, he did not seek me out again.

Then I ran into this video. Skip to 17:52 for the relevant scene; I cannot figure out how post a start time in the video window.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Caleb was the brother of those two little girls. He dropped dead quite unexpectedly last October, at the age of 13. I can’t help wondering what their reaction will be if and when they find out that the ISR isn’t what they pretend that they aren’t presenting themselves as. (I decided not to be a dick in the comments section. Their hearts are already broken enough.)

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by geckzilla » Sun May 08, 2016 2:40 am

Well duh he didn't ask you again. You couldn't even find his star! Gosh! You clearly didn't make any of the Who's Who registries.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Nitpicker » Mon May 09, 2016 12:09 am

I know nothing of the ISR in particular, but I know of a number of observatories that will register stars in people's names, for a fee. The star is then listed with the additional name in that observatory's catalog, and a certificate is issued with some details about the star. I don't see anything wrong with this service. It raises a little money for the observatory and provides loved ones with a rather charming little token of remembrance. I don't believe that observatories are selling these star names as official names, or universal names, though some people might possibly assume they are.

A few years ago, a friend of mine showed me such a certificate purchased in the name of his late sister, by one of his relatives. The star chosen was not visible to unaided eyes (mag 8), but was circumpolar above the observatory and gave sufficient details of the star such that it could be located easily. I think my friend was one who may have initially thought that the star was now officially named after his sister. But once I explained the reality and showed him how to locate it and spot it with binos or a camera, he was not at all disappointed. Until then, he had no idea where the star was in the sky.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by geckzilla » Mon May 09, 2016 3:06 am

While I don't think it's a very serious topic, it is one that causes a bit of disagreement among the astronomical community. Some astronomers think it's wrong and others see it as harmless fun. I think as long as people understand what they're getting and don't one day turn around and decide they were deceived then it's fine. I guess we won't ever know what the individual from Ricky's story was thinking unless he comes back.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Nitpicker » Mon May 09, 2016 4:03 am

Given that every different star catalog has its own naming convention, it seems a bit odd that anyone who knows it, would care about another catalog with its own convention.

Stars aren't just for scientists.

I haven't seen any "name a star" service that claims the star names they catalog will be official outside the catalog, or that they will be adopted by the scientific community. They appear to be careful to explicitly state the opposite. So, if people "buy a star" thinking otherwise, they are fools. Fools get fleeced routinely. Indeed, it is a good reason to stop being a fool.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Ann » Mon May 09, 2016 4:51 am

Nitpicker wrote:Given that every different star catalog has its own naming convention, it seems a bit odd that anyone who knows it, would care about another catalog with its own convention.

Stars aren't just for scientists.

I haven't seen any "name a star" service that claims the star names they catalog will be official outside the catalog, or that they will be adopted by the scientific community. They appear to be careful to explicitly state the opposite. So, if people "buy a star" thinking otherwise, they are fools. Fools get fleeced routinely. Indeed, it is a good reason to stop being a fool.
I totally agree.

But I was heartbroken at the story of the boy who dropped dead at the age of 13 - and to think that his parents had been filming and posting much of his life on youtube. I can only hope that the family can find his star in the sky if they look for it.

I feel a bit sorry for the boy who couldn't be shown his star in Lynx, but I totally sympathize with you, Ricky. Lynx is a boring, sprawling, faint and unmemorable constellation. It doesn't even have any blue stars to speak of. Who can find anything in there?

I can't help thinking that, on a planet a suitable number of light-years away, there just might be an intelligent race of Zg%r&&t¤/\thans that just possibly have bequeathed an interesting name to our Sun. And if our Sun is too faint in their skies to have a name or even an official designation, then maybe a set of parents bought our 13th magnitude star to give to their offspring.

Would it matter to us? Of course not, since we would have no way of knowing about it in the first place. But I hope that the Zg%r&&t¤/\than child got to see our Sun through a Zg%r&&t¤/\than telescope.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by geckzilla » Mon May 09, 2016 4:56 am

Well, ISR is a vanity service, just like Who's Who. I don't know if it contributes to any sort of science outreach or research at all. I think it may just contribute to the bank accounts of whoever owns and maintains it. At their worst, vanity services prey on vulnerable individuals. At their best, they're just a fun little thing.
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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Nitpicker » Mon May 09, 2016 5:34 am

I suspect that a vanity service merely exploits vanity. One might argue that most of the funeral industry is a vanity service.

At least the ISR gives you a certificate. :wink:

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by geckzilla » Mon May 09, 2016 5:46 am

Better a certificate than a headstone, I guess.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Cousin Ricky » Mon May 09, 2016 2:55 pm

geckzilla wrote:I guess we won't ever know what the individual from Ricky's story was thinking unless he comes back.
He didn't seem disillusioned at the time.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Cousin Ricky » Mon May 09, 2016 2:59 pm

Nitpicker wrote:I haven't seen any "name a star" service that claims the star names they catalog will be official outside the catalog, or that they will be adopted by the scientific community. They appear to be careful to explicitly state the opposite. So, if people "buy a star" thinking otherwise, they are fools. Fools get fleeced routinely. Indeed, it is a good reason to stop being a fool.
No, they don't outright make that claim, or they'd be in trouble with the consumer authorities. However, the ISR certainly markets itself in a way that gives the impression that it's official.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon May 09, 2016 4:05 pm

Cousin Ricky wrote:
Nitpicker wrote:I haven't seen any "name a star" service that claims the star names they catalog will be official outside the catalog, or that they will be adopted by the scientific community. They appear to be careful to explicitly state the opposite. So, if people "buy a star" thinking otherwise, they are fools. Fools get fleeced routinely. Indeed, it is a good reason to stop being a fool.
No, they don't outright make that claim, or they'd be in trouble with the consumer authorities. However, the ISR certainly markets itself in a way that gives the impression that it's official.
Yes, ISR is the worst. They really make it seem like you're getting an official designation.

Most of the other examples I know of are fund raising operations for observatories and planetariums, and they don't disguise what they're doing the way ISR does. (And ISR has gotten into legal trouble in the past, and had to adjust their marketing.)
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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Fred the Cat » Mon May 09, 2016 5:11 pm

You might think the IAU could come up with a plan to designate stars for a fee that would go to a charitable organization (or fund the process itself) so that the name of a star could be given to someone or someone's loved one. It could even be a lesser known crater on the moon or other celestial body.

What a good way to act as a remembrance especially if that person might know their name will always be associated with a particular star or object. I'd like that better than having a gravestone or marker here on Earth which someone would have to attend to in perpetuity.

I don't think there is a shortage of stars or craters to go around. That might even better than Fred's the Star :wink:
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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by neufer » Mon May 09, 2016 5:29 pm

Fred the Cat wrote:
That might even better than Fred's the Star :wink:
  • You & Lynx already have a constellation:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx_%28constellation%29 wrote: <<Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius defined the Lynx constellation in the 17th century as he wanted to fill the open gap between the constellations Ursa Major and Auriga. Forming it from 19 faint stars that he observed with the unaided eye, he named it Lynx because of its faintness. He challenged future stargazers to see it, declaring that only the lynx-eyed (those of good sight) would have been able to recognize it. Hevelius gave it the alternate name of Tiger in his catalogue as well as Lynx, but kept the latter name only in his atlas. John Flamsteed adopted the constellation in his catalogue and atlas. According to amateur astronomer Richard Hinckley Allen, the chief stars in Lynx "might well have been utilized by the modern constructor, whoever he was, of our Ursa Major to complete the quartette of feet."
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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Fred the Cat » Mon May 09, 2016 6:18 pm

neufer wrote:
Fred the Cat wrote:
That might even better than Fred's the Star
  • You & Lynx already have a constellation:
And you have Tralfamadore and Montana. I wouldn't mind that concept in perpetuity a bit! Some might be concerned about being put in a zoo. Not me. I just worry about over curiosity :( or being put in a box! :( and :ssmile:
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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Nitpicker » Mon May 09, 2016 11:47 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
Cousin Ricky wrote: No, they don't outright make that claim, or they'd be in trouble with the consumer authorities. However, the ISR certainly markets itself in a way that gives the impression that it's official.
Yes, ISR is the worst. They really make it seem like you're getting an official designation.

Most of the other examples I know of are fund raising operations for observatories and planetariums, and they don't disguise what they're doing the way ISR does. (And ISR has gotten into legal trouble in the past, and had to adjust their marketing.)
With beautiful irony, it appears there might be a few fake ISR websites (which are probably hosted by underpaid, disgruntled astronomers).

I can't really tell which sites are real or fake, but some sites appear more deceptive than others.

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Ann » Tue May 10, 2016 12:16 am

From youtube video, Starfield HD Dreamscene
Image
Mu Columbae. Photo: Wikisky.
Hey Ma, I want that star!

I think I'll pick a star for myself. I'd like to pick Mu Columbae, because that's the bluest-looking of all the stars in the sky that are magnitude six or brighter.

But maybe Mu Columbae is too famous, being a runaway star and all that. So I'll pick Upsilon Orionis instead.


Upsilon Orionis is almost as blue as Mu Columbae, and it is brighter in the sky (and almost certainly brighter in itself, too), and it is not nearly as far south as Mu Columbae, so it is more accessible to me. Upsilon Orionis is a remarkable star, really, and remarkably ignored by everyone but me.

So Upsilon, you're mine!

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by rstevenson » Tue May 10, 2016 12:26 am

Ann wrote:... So Upsilon, you're mine!
Sorry Ann, it's mine. In fact I'm there (here) now, looking back at you. (I've got a very wide-area WIFI. And just imagine the problems with replying here when I have to send my answer 6000 years before you make your post!)

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Ann » Tue May 10, 2016 1:48 am

rstevenson wrote:
Ann wrote:... So Upsilon, you're mine!
Sorry Ann, it's mine. In fact I'm there (here) now, looking back at you. (I've got a very wide-area WIFI. And just imagine the problems with replying here when I have to send my answer 6000 years before you make your post!)

Rob
Yeah... I won't even try. Image

And to think that you got there before me. It's... it's...amazing!!!

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Re: My first ISR victim, and a potential heartbreak

Post by Cousin Ricky » Fri May 13, 2016 11:56 am

Cousin Ricky wrote:... (The observatory scope could not be used because the recalibration for public viewing was cannibalizing to much research time.) ...
Don't you hate when you find a typo after the editing period has expired?