a star was born

Kiddo#1 saved his money until he was able to buy a very nice telescope for his birthday. (Thanks mostly to all family members who generously gave birthday gifts of the cash variety.) This purchase followed on months of him walking around with books of star charts, a college course on DVD about how to look at the night sky, and endless research about what makes for a very nice telescope. “You might think it’s just about magnification, but in reality, magnification is the last attribute you want to consider–”

Every weekend since then, if the sky is clear, Kiddo#1 and his Patient Father have doused themselves in mosquito repellent and headed outside. A couple of hours later, shivering and eaten by mosquitos which were actually attracted to the bug spray, they return with tales of what they’ve seen tonight. Occasionally they call me outside to take a look at the really cool stuff: See that star? Now, take a look through the telescope….Yeah! It’s really two stars! It’s a double-star! Isn’t that cool?

Last week they called me outside to see a cluster. They pointed out the W of Cassiopeia and then told me the telescope was pointing to an apparently starless spot just off to the left. I looked through the telescope and saw instead of darkness a cluster of stars. Later that night, they came in thrilled: I had to come out and see Jupiter. When I looked through the view finder, I saw not only Jupiter but four of its moons. Quite cool.

That Monday, Kiddo#1 told one of his teachers about seeing Jupiter and seeing M-12 or whatever else it was he’d seen. The teacher talked to him about stars and telescopes, and then told him, “You want to know what’s the biggest waste of money?”

At this point in the story, as Kiddo#1 related it to me, I said, “Paying to name a star?”

“Yeah!” said Kiddo#1. “He told us that no organization has the authority to name stars, but they’re out there selling the naming rights to stars anyhow!”

I said, “We actually have one.”

Back in 2002 or thereabouts, someone sent us a Star Registry where they’d named a star for Emily Rose. I thought it was a very sweet gesture (and no, I didn’t know at the time it was just a gimmick) and it was nice to think of it as a memorial. My Patient Husband said we could look for the paperwork, and I said, “I know where it is.” It’s in our cedar chest, along with my other box of Emily’s things, her outfit and her lock of hair and condolence cards.

When we looked at the chart to see if Kiddo#1 could view it in his telescope, there was a map with Cassiopeia, and Emily’s star highlighted in yellow.

It was in that cluster they’d called me outside to see two nights earlier.

Hi, Baby. Sometimes we miss you an awful lot. Sometimes we see parts of you and we didn’t even know you were there. Pray for us, okay?


  1. christopher


  2. MNdragonlady

    So sweet. Isn’t it precious when God breaks into a seemingly mundane moment and gives us a little gift like that? And now others can be blessed through your story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Cheryl

    Awww! 🙂

    IMO, it’s only a waste of money IF you are (and remain) under the impression that the star naming thinger is official (and even then, not so much a waste of money, as sad that someone would be deceived). As long as you know what it is, it can be fun. After all, it’s a memorial meaningful to *you* – who cares what an astronomer out at Mauna Kea calls the star?

  4. capt_cardor

    Astronomers really don’t name stars anymore. with the billions of stars in our galaxy there are more stars than words in all the languages on Earth. While no organization has the legal right to name the Stars, I would like to point out that the New World was named by someone who did not have the legal right to do so, and had not actually discovered it. Yes, Amerigo Vespucci got to name America only because he could and enough people then accepted it as correct.

    My point is that maybe someday people will visit those stars and will need to settle on a name. They might just go to one of those star lists and use it in order to save time. Then maybe “Emily Rose” will be the actual name of a star.

    I can dream can’t I?

    1. Jane

      Heh. We only live in America rather than Columbia because Amerigo Vespucci’s best friend was a mapmaker. We know how Italians do business. 😉

      Even if they send exactly the same star map to every person who buys a star name, it was still a wonderful gesture and a sweet coincidence.

  5. Bill Clark

    I was going to say “wow” too, but Christopher already said it. So now emily Rose has a double-wow.

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