If you're in your car late at night, you may happen upon a radio commercial for the "International Star Registry," an Illinois operation that allows you to "name a star" in the sky for a loved one's birthday, Valentine's Day, etc. They'll be glad to sell you a certificate or a piece of jewelry to prove it, though if you go over the fine print you'll find you really haven't done anything official for your $54 (or more).
Now, Angeles Duran, a 49-year-old woman from Salvaterra do Mino, Spain, has gone one step further: She's gone to her local notary public and claimed ownership of the Sun.
"There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law," she told the Spanish daily El Mundo, according to AFP. "I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first."
Over at Discovery News, Ray Villard, a veteran science writer I've known for some years, has had a bit of fun with this:
"Well, why not own the sun?" he writes. "It's low maintenance, it has sustained nuclear fusion reactions for the last 4.6 billion years without repairs and it comes with a 10 billion-year warranty backed by the laws of gravity, hydrodynamics, and particle physics." Click HERE for Villard's piece.
Ms. Duran told El Mundo she plans to charge all users (that would be us) a fee. She'd give half the proceeds to the Spanish government, 20 percent to Spain's pension fund, 10 percent to research, 10 percent to ending world hunger. She would keep the remaining 10 percent for herself.
What will she do if you don't pay? Turn it off?
Villard retorts: "I'd advise Duran against renaming the sun because it already has good branding and market share. But she needs to trademark the word 'sun.' She could also assert copyright over sunset, sunrise, and solar eclipse photos. She could insist that the credit line read: 'Sun, courtesy of A. Duran.'"
"The downside is that Duran is now also now responsible for all damages caused by the sun," he writes. "If someone can sue McDonalds for spilling hot coffee in his or her lap, than anyone can sue Duran for sunburn…."
Ray's piece has provoked some fittingly tongue-in-cheek comments, including this one: "I hereby claim all the space between the sun and earth! I will be charging her sun rays a toll for crossing my space!"