A Spanish woman claims that she owns the Sun, and now plans to start charging all users.
Hoax or Fact:
The message says that a Spanish woman has claimed to own the Sun, and plans to start charging all its users. The incident is a fact.
The story is reported by Daily Mail in November 2010. A Spanish woman named Angeles Duran from Galicia, located on the border of Spain and Portugal, has declared that she owns the Sun, and also showed the registration papers to prove her claim. She said that she had the celestial body registered in her name at a local notary office and so the Sun officially belongs to her now. Duran told reporters that she took this step in September that year, after she read about an American man who had registered himself as the owner of moon and other planets in our solar system. The public notary document declared Ms Duran as the
'owner of the Sun, a star of spectral type G2, located in the centre of the solar system, located at an average distance from Earth of about 149,600,000 kilometers'
Angeles Duran actually took advantage of a loophole in the International Outer Space Treaty, 1967 which stipulates
"outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."
The treaty does not allow nations to own the sun and the planets, but does not mention anything about individuals. Ms Duran also says the same:
"I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law. I did it, but anyone else could have done it -- it simply occurred to me first."
After getting herself registered as the owner of the sun, Duran also wanted to charge a fee on everyone who uses the sun, giving half of the proceeds to the Spanish government, 20 percent to the nation's pension fund, 10 percent to research, another 10 percent to ending world hunger, and wanted to keep the remaining 10 percent for herself.
However, Tanja Masson-Zwaan, the president of the Netherlands-based International Institute of Space Law clarified this saying:
"They argue that the Outer Space Treaty only binds states because it is an intergovernmental treaty -- an agreement between states -- and therefore, individuals can do what they want. This is not true. A citizen is given its rights as a citizen by the state and should live by the laws of that state, and cannot do things that the state is not allowed to do."
This clarifies that Angeles Duran, and for that matter any other individual or nation can not own celestial bodies like Sun or Moon. Interestingly, in 1980, another man by name Dennis Hope from Nevada used the same loophole of the UN treaty that Duran used and claimed ownership of the earth's moon. He even went a step ahead and sold prime real estate of the moon.