You may not have heard of Angeles Duran, but unless you live in a cave, a submarine, or Seattle, you've been using something that belongs to her. Duran is a woman from Salvaterra do Miño, Spain, who recently went to her local notary and filed for ownership of the sun. And got it. Here's a picture of her proudly displaying the certificate. "There was no snag," Duran told reporters. "I backed my claim legally. I am not stupid. I know the law."
Um--does she? Duran says that she's found a loophole in an international provision that forbids nations from making a claim on celestial bodies. The loophole, according to Duran, is that the treaty only prevents nations from doing this--it doesn't say anything about individuals. "I did it but anyone else could have done it," said Duran. "It simply occurred to me first."
As Susana Polo at Geekosystem points out, Duran may be the first to claim possession of the sun, but a number of people have tried it with moons and planets before. In fact, Duran said that she was inspired earlier this year by an American man who registered for ownership of the moon, Mars, and Venus. But Phil Plait at Discover is pretty sure none of these claims are even slightly legitimate:
Joanne Gabrynowicz, who is the director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, at Ole Miss... pointed out that international law is based on practice and opinion — how nations behave and what they say about a legal issue. And some of them have said no individuals can own space ... In a nutshell: a) Ms. Duran's claim is without merit; 2) even if it had merit the Spanish government would have to actively have supported it, which it didn't; and γ) they won't support it because if they did the full weight of every other country on the planet would bear down on them since other Treaty-signing countries have already established they don't support nonsense like this.
(It's unclear why Plait sets off his points with an English letter, an Arabic numeral, and a Greek character, but he seems to know what he's talking about.)
Such arguments don't appear to bother Duran, who says that she plans to start charging the people of Earth for using her sun. Alasdair Wilkins at io9 has the breakdown: "She says the Spanish government will get 50% of the proceeds, while 20% goes to the country's ailing pension fund, 10% to research, 10% to ending world hunger, and just 10% for herself. Why, if everyone in the world pays $1 for the use of the Sun, she'll only make 600 million dollars every year! She's practically giving the Sun away."
Here's a photo of Duran's new acquisition, complete with official watermark:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.