So… you want to be immortal… you want a celestial body named after you. What next? Unfortunately, the one body that does officially name stars and galaxies – the IAU – won’t let you put your name on one (their regulations are here). Or on a comet or asteroid either.
Fortunately there are plenty of options available for you. Some are less ‘valid’ than others, but none of them is really more than a novelty.
These companies basically put you in their own privately held catalogue and send you nice certificates.
Nice ones I’ve found are:
Name a Star Live. They’re cool because they let you use the SLOOH observatory to look at your own star.
The International Star Registry is nice because it’s been featured in loads of magazines and has several notable customers, including Nicole Kidman.
Free Star Naming
These are free but will charge you extra for not having a banner on the certificate you print yourself, having a nice looking bezel for the certificate, etc etc etc.
Free name a star is like this.
The Pale Blue Dot Project is cheap (only $10), plugs into the Google Sky addon and you can select your own star from a limited number that will be scanned for planets by the Kepler satellite.
The Stardome Observatory and the Sydney Observatory both also fund the observatory and are placed in their own catalogues. Unfotunately they only give you stars visible on the southern side of the globe.
BUT WHY STOP THERE?! BUY A GALAXY!
NameAGalaxy.com allows you to name a galaxy for free and download a certificate.
The Windowpane Observatory in Arizona gives you a star map as well – as telescope time . Galaxies are visible using the naked eye!
OR… The Moon awaits!
The Lunar Embassy thought this one up. No, you can’t enforce it, but it makes a nice certificate. They’re also offering land on Mars or Venus and it starts at GBP 16.75 but you can’t pick the location.
Now naming an asteroid…
Now these are different. The discoverer can apply for a name, which is then looked at by the allmighty IAU to whittle off living politicians, offensive people, unpronouncable names, etc. and then the name is awarded. Of course after 10 years, it becomes fair game, and a concentrated email campaign will help push the IAU over the edge and name it the way you like. see the Space.com article.
As for comets
The guidelines are pretty strict here – it goes to the discoverer(s), unless it’s discovered by a huge amount of people, in which case it gets a generic name. The guidelines of the IAU are here.
Finally, a word for solar systems
Nope. Neither for NEO’s (Near Earth Objects). Space.com has a good article on the naming conventions here if you’re really interested.