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Star Scams

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Commercialism can be found everywhere, even in the sky. Companies all over the Internet allow customers to name a star in the heavens... for a small fee, of course. The idea sounds perfect for Valentine's Day, birthdays, and other special occasions, a twinkling tribute to someone special.

Unfortunately, the naming services out there border on scams. Along with the name, you may get some small gifts associated with astronomy, such as star charts and full color photos. This legitimate aspect isn't a problem. However, only one organization in the world has the right to officially name stars, the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Because few companies honestly advertise that the name has no official value, many customers believe that the name will live on for generations.


Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What words do you associate with "astronomy?" Brainstorm words with a partner.

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. What might be considered dishonest?
               a. you have to pay money to name the star
               b. you receive some small gifts with the purchase
               c. companies don't tell you that the name isn't official
               d. all of the above
  2. Who is allowed to officially name stars?
               a. anyone who pays a small fee
               b. the IAU
               c. a few official organizations, such as the IAU
               d. no one

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. How you ever heard and/or thought about naming a star? Is it a good idea?
  2. If you could name a star, what sort of name would you choose? Why?
  3. What other Internet scams do you know about? Please explain.

Download the lesson:

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