An observatory astronomer once had a great idea for making a fast buck. He decided to sell the city’s list of fire hydrants one at a time to anyone willing to send him a check for $50. In this way, he promised to name a plug after anyone whose check didn’t bounce and sent them a lovely certificate and a map with the location of the hydrant. Additionally, he filed his ‘Fireplug Registry’ with the Library of Congress to make it sound even more official.
However, much to his wife’s regret, this fellow remained an astronomer and didn’t move to the south of France as he had hoped. John Houseman’s words rang true: to achieve something big, hard work was necessary, even in astronomy. Immortality, he believed, wasn’t easy; long nights at the business end of a telescope were not a myth.
Recently, his distress grew upon seeing the unsuspecting public falling for the tricks of ‘star’ dealers who promised to name a star after them for a hefty price. These dealers claimed to ‘record’ the star in an ‘official star registry.’ However, in truth, their registries were nowhere officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) or any other reputable observatories, including his own.
In an effort to educate the public about the night sky and its wonders, he recommended using tools like the Star Wheel produced by Sky Publishing Corp. in Massachusetts. By dialing in the date and time, this device provided a current picture of the night sky and helped people become familiar with constellations and stars. He firmly believed that through legitimate resources like this, anyone could develop a deep understanding and appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the universe.