The most unusual job I’ve had was selling stars. Yes, I worked at the International Star Registry as their PR consultant back in 1997/98. The catch line really was “your sure to adore your place in space”. The oddest moment was complaining to the then Broadcasting Standards Commission about astronomer Patrick Moore calling us cowboys, and then a freak tornado destroying his observatory not long after (sorry Patrick..). The BSC threw out our complaint.
But that pales into insignificance against meeting the niece of Ivor Downie, the founder of the company from Canada at a friend’s party. Downie was a farmer who wanted to name a star after his daughter, and set up the company to make his wish come true. Now that’s what I call a far-out coincidence!
I never did get round to naming a star – though we put my name on a certificate sent to the BSC as evidence. What I did really enjoy was telling people my job, and the ‘straights’ complaining, “Oh, but that’s not really naming a star is it? Only astronomers can do that.” How right they are.
Sir Elton and his star certificate.