Starman David Bowie celebrated in the stars [updated]

18 Jan 2016130 Shares

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An asterism in tribute to David Bowie, via www.stardustforbowie.be

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Up in the skies sits a collection of stars that music fans want named after David Bowie, who passed away last week.

Songs like Space Oddity, Starman and Life on Mars? inextricably link David Bowie with science fiction, space travel and, ultimately, a huge number of astronomer fans.

With that, a Belgian radio station, Studio Brussel, and the MIRA public observatory teamed up to find a new asterism to name after the rock star, with the seven stars representing the lightning bolt make-up Bowie wore on the cover of his 1973 album Alladin Sane.

“Studio Brussels asked us to give Bowie a unique place in the galaxy. It was not easy to determine the appropriate stars,” said Philippe Mollet from MIRA.

“Referring to his various albums, we chose seven stars – Sigma Librae, Spica, Alpha Virginis, Zeta Centauri, SAA 204 132, and the Beta Sigma Octantis Trianguli Australis.

“The constellation is a copy of the iconic Bowie lightning and was recorded at the exact time of his death.”

It’s all tied in with a related Google Sky initiative by the station, dubbed Stardust for Bowie, which allows people to create tributes to the singer within the constellation.

The more tributes there are, the brighter the constellation in the Google Sky galaxy, making it easier to find.

However despite claims that this was a constellation named after the singer, in truth it is an asterism, with stars taken in from multiple other constellations.

The 88 constellations already named make up the entire celestial sphere so naming a new one isn’t really possible. These 88 are recognised by the International Astronomical Union, the official naming body of scientists.

Asterisms can be named anything you want really, but that is not to say there are official titles for every last one.

*Update: The title and parts of this article were updated on Tuesday 19 January at 9am to reflect information on asterisms and clarify that it was not a constellation registered in David Bowie’s honour.

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Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com