Writing Prompt: Star Registries

It was a scam. I know it was a scam. I worked at the International Astronomical Union for thirty years and know how celestial bodies are named. That’s what made it such a funny gift when I retired: my team “bought” me a star. No, there’s no such thing. There are commercial entities that maintain a “star registry” – which is just a database of stars. You buy a line in the database — Right ascension 23h 13m 16.97632s, Declination +57° 10′ 06.0823″ has the “name” of TinaM. What stops someone else from creating a database, throwing a bunch of coordinates of celestial bodies into a table, and selling you a slot in their table? Absolutely nothing! It’s a scam. That star is really designated HD 219134! There are a few planets orbiting this star. At least two of which are super-Earths. I know this because I looked it up after being presented the “Star Certificate” at my retirement party last July. The certificate which hangs behind the desk in my office.

Also? The certificate toward which the amorphous lavender blob draped across my desk is frantically gesturing with a protrusion that is vaguely arm-like. High-pitched whines emanate from within its form. The blob shakes violently, and a sliver box plops onto the floor. A holograph fills my office. Hundreds of lavender blobs are swimming in a shimmering, silver ocean. They dot the rocky shore. Suddenly, a spaceship appears above beach. A hatch opens and something begins to fall from the spacecraft. The ship begins to move, and the detritus quickly covers the beach and ocean. “Tina”, a voice booms. “If you have the hubris to claim ownership of our solar system, at least tell the thwrrgs to stop shipping their rubbish to our beautiful, rocky shores.”

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