Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
December 8th, 2008

Google Sky Integration

We’ve all used Google maps to get around. Google maps can also overlay aerial photographs, and you can link to Google Earth to see pictures at street level.

Google also has Google sky that allows you to view the stars. I fooled with this briefly when it came out and didn’t get anywhere with it. I was able to use the Google Earth API to make Points-of-interest files for my GPS device. I finally got Google Sky working correctly with FreeNameAStar.com.

Here is the secret. Instead of Longitude and Latitude, you have to use the sky equivalents of Right Ascension and Declination. The Sky coordinates start at zero at the Vernal equinox. The big difference in Google Sky, is that it uses a view as though you were looking down at earth so the Right Ascension is the mirror image of the standard astronomical right ascension.

I have to convert the radians stored on the database into degrees, and then I have to subtract the right ascension from 180, giving it backwards from the vernal equinox. Pretty tricky!

I now embed an actual photograph of the star from Google Sky in each Star’s web page.

November 5th, 2008

Boys, Girls, Make Money at Home with Your Computer

It seems unlikely, but I have discovered that several people are reselling my Free Name A Star Certificates on eBay for about $15 (maybe more). They sell the star, go to my site and pay the $2 to get the “Free” off the certificate, print it out with a screen dump of the star map, mail it, and collect the money.

I have thought about this and decided that as long as my role is just to collect my share, it is a good idea. I envision an army of salesmen flooding the world with star certificates, and me making $2 on each one.

It is not the best way for people at home to make money, although probably easy enough.

I figure that a certificate and map on good quality paper costs about $1.

The postage and envelope have to cost about $3 for first class mail and the eBay listing fee is $2.50.

PayPal will cost you another $1.50

That $15 turns into $5 profit.

You might want to subtract out gasoline to the post office. If it takes you 30 minutes to do the whole process, you wind up making about $10 an hour, unless you can figure a way to cut costs. An efficiently run operation might double that and selling 100 stars in a 40 hour week could make a person $25,000 or more a year, hardly worth it unless you charge $20 per registration.

I’ve registered about 44,000 stars since the site went live, although only 1 in 40 is a pay star. I only have about 6,000 left on the list. I don’t remember exactly how I did this and I am wondering if I still have the master list from two years ago in order to add more stars. I hope I don’t run out of stars. I never dreamed that I would register more than 50,000 stars.