"We had been out walking, just after the sun set, and were sitting on a park bench looking at the stars. It was a beautiful night. After a while, he said 'I wonder if we'll see any shooting stars tonight.' Then, he asked me what I would wish for if I saw one. I think I said a pony or something. He said, 'If I saw a shooting star right now, I would wish that we could live together happily ever after.' That was so sweet! I tried to kiss him, but he was still looking at the sky. Then he went 'Look!!!' and pointed up. I looked, just in time to see a shooting star go by! It was amazing, like a miracle! When I looked down again, he was already on one knee. He took the ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him, right there! Of course I said 'Yes' right away. It was like... fate!"
If you would like your future wife to be able to tell a story like that, then this instructable is for you!
This Valentine's Day, I'll show you how to make this miracle happen, right on cue, using a billion dollar satellite network and some good timing.
Step 1: Some Explanation
Secondly, this instructable is also premised on the western tradition of asking the woman for her hand in marriage. Other cultures may have other traditions, so this may not work as well for them (e.g. arranged marriages and the like). Then again, if your future bride is from a remote tribe living deep in the jungle, you might be able to use this instructable to get the tribe to make you their King! Good luck with that...
Finally, Iridium does not refer to the metal, or some hallucinogen. It refers to the satellite network sent up by Motorola in the late '90s.
Step 2: Materials
1. a Woman that you think might be willing to marry you (a.k.a. your girlfriend, better-half, or significant other).
2. a computer with internet access (if your reading this instructable, I think we can assume you've got this one)
3. Engagement ring (doesn't have to be fancy, but depends on #1's tastes)
4. a decent watch that shows seconds and is easily readable
5. a GPS device can help pinpoint your chosen location
Step 3: Location Location Location
- relatively secluded, so you have some privacy
- outside the city (light pollution makes stars hard to see)
- clear view of the night sky (the more open it is, the more options you will have in the next steps)
Once you find a location, you want to know its exact position. A GPS device will help you. Bring it with you to the location and read out the Latitude and Longitude. The more precise, the better. You don't need it to the micro-second, but you want it pretty close. If you don't have a GPS device, Google Maps may help.
Step 4: Find Your Shooting Star!
So how do you find one? Look it up online, of course!
There may be others, but this is the site I use (incredibly useful, and good for other things, too).
On Heavens-above.com, you will need to enter the location found in step 3, into the configuration area at the top of their page. After you told the site where you are, a little lower on the page is the Satellite section. Under 'Iridium Flares', click on the "next 7 days" option. A list of flares occurring at your location will be provided.
Step 6: Finding the Right One
In the flares list, the first thing to look for is the intensity. This tells you how bright the flare will be. Minus 8 is about as bright as they get, and that is pretty bright. Anything brighter than minus 3 should be easily visible, but go for the brightest you can find, so there is little chance of you or your girlfriend missing it.
The next criteria is the time. The times on heavens-above.com are on a 24 hour clock. Unless you and yours like to go for early morning walks before sunrise, you will be looking for something after sunset, so times in the 18:00 to 22:00 (6 to 10 pm) timeframe are ideal. In the chart above, February 13th and February 14th have excellent choices, as they have bright flares appearing just after 6:30pm.
If there aren't any bright flares on Valentines day in your area, there probably will be one within a few days. You'll just have to find a way to postpone (or move up) your special date. Tell her it's your turn to volunteer at the animal shelter on Feb. 14th, but that you'll take her out for a special dinner on Saturday (wink wink nudge nudge).
Step 7: Altitude and Azimuth
To get altitude, the rule of thumb I use is to hold you closed fist at arms length, with the bottom of your fist on the horizon, thumb on top. The width of your fist is approximately 8 degrees. In the chart above, for Feb 13th, the altitude is 61 degrees. So to find how high in the sky this is, I would hold my fist out, then put my other on on top of it, and keep alternating until I got 7 - 8 fists high, or about 56 - 64 degrees (pretty high in the sky). If the flare is going to be between 75 and 89 degrees up, that's close to straight up. You might find it easier to make arrangements to lay down on a blanket when you do your stargazing. Make sure the flare will appear high enough in the sky that you will be able to see it over any trees or buildings in the area, too.
Azimuth is measured from North, clockwise if you're looking at the ground. Face North and hold out your right arm. That's pointing East, or 90 degrees. Your left arm would point West, or 270 degrees. South is behind you. You could use a compass if you can't find North.
The flare for Feb 13th has an azimuth of 25 degrees, so I'll be looking a little to the right of North. You don't have to be exact in your measurements. You just want to know the general area to look. A flare of -6 or -7 will be plenty bright on a clear dark night and will instantly attract your eye to it, and your girlfriend's eye.
Step 8: Write a Script
You: Beautiful night for stargazing, isn't it?
Her: Yes, it is.
You: I wonder is we'll see any shooting stars tonight. (pause) If you see one, you get to make a wish, you know. What would you wish for?
Her: Oh, I don't know, maybe a pony, or a million dollars, or ...
You: If I saw a shooting star right now, I would wish that we could be this happy for the rest of our lives.
I know, it's a pretty short script, but you need it to get your timing right. You should also know what you want say to her when you ask her to marry you, but that is outside this instructable and totally up to you. Here's mine: "Darling, if you will grant my wish, I will try to make your dreams come true. Will you marry me?"
Yes, these words might sound sappy sweet, but of all the times in your life, this is when you want to use them!
Step 9: Rehearsal and Timing
The other thing you want get out of the rehearsal is the timing. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you can record the rehearsal with a video camera it would help here, even if it's just you. Record it, then later when you're watching it, note the amount of time it takes to run through your small script. You could just time yourself using a stopwatch if you don't have a video camera. You also want to have some idea of how long a pause you are going to give your girlfriend to speak.
Let's say, after rehearsing, you have found that it takes 30 seconds to run through your script. Now you know that you need to start at least 30 seconds before that satellite shows up. You should also add several seconds to allow for delays or the unknown, plus you don't want to rush, or appear to be rushed.
Step 10: Dry Run
You should definitely try a dry run or dress rehearsal (with your trusted friend if possible). In the example above, I would try a dry run on Feb 13th. You will need to make sure you can get to your chosen location in time to say your script and see the flare. It will also be good practice for locating the flare in the sky.
Once you are at the location, you need to have a subtle way of checking your watch, so you know when to begin, but not being obvius that you're on a schedule. See how it goes. Make adjustments to your script or timing if necessary, based on what happens. You want to get it right, because the next step is to Take the Plunge!
Step 11: Take the Plunge!
Bring the ring!
Take a break in your walk when you get to the spot you selected. Glance at your watch. When the time is right, start the words you rehearsed.
Don't forget to Breathe!
If the stars are aligned for you (and you took every step to make sure they were!) the effect will be miraculous and magical!
Oh, one other word of advice. When you say what you'd wish for if you saw a shooting star, KEEP LOOKING UP! If your words have had their intended effect, she'll want to hug or kiss or be romantic back. There will be plenty of time for that after the satellite appears! You don't want to miss it.
Of course, if something does go wrong...
Step 12: Back Up Plan
Step 13: Postscript
If anyone tries this out, I would love to know about it and how it turned out for you!
This is my first Instructable, so I welcome any constructive criticism you could give me in the comments. Oh, and please vote for me in the Valentines Day contest!
This Instructable is dedicated to my wife, Kim.