This (starry) life

Joan Edison; 3/4/10

Our cat is a star. No, not the usual family personality – that goes without saying – but a true star in the sky. Otherwise known as No 600217 in the Sydney Southern Star Catalogue, or No 232165 in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Catalogue, it has been named Dolly, thanks to the Sydney Observatory’s Name a Star program.We wanted to honour our little puss on her 17th birthday and thought a star was a great way to do it. The observatory said most people chose stars for birthdays, anniversaries and deaths. We were apparently the first people to name a star after a live pet. Friends and family thought we’d gone a bit crackers. “I hear title plots on the moon are going for a song,” one emailed. “Have you heard about this nice little bridge? It’s in Brooklyn.”For $300 you name a date and the observatory chooses a star that is visible for seven weeks either side of that date. They then send you its exact location, its brightness level and the co-ordinates for viewing with the naked eye, binoculars or telescope. For an extra $50 you can have a private viewing through the observatory’s telescopes for four people. You also get a dedication certificate in which you can write a few words. We naturally chose The Owl and the Pussycat: “The owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar, what a beautiful pussy you are, you are, what a beautiful pussy you are.” The money from naming stars helps fund the observatory’s work.

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