Imagine this conversation:
"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
First of all, this instructable is being written from the perspective of a man who wants to ask a woman to marry him. That is just my experience. This is not meant to slight women. If you're a woman and think this might be a good idea to use to ask your man (or partner) to marry you, then by all means, give it a try! I guess this would also be true for gay men as well. The more, the merrier!
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
Some things you will need to make this miracle happen:
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
Once you have decided to ask the woman of your dreams to marry you, the next step is to think about where you would like to propose. Location is very important and should fit these criteria:
- 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!
The Iridium satellite network (60+ satellites) was launched by Motorola in the late 1990's to provide communications worldwide. It was generally a financial failure due to the high cost to consumers and the emergence of cell phones and their networks, but Iridium is still used in different ways by different groups, but it is no longer owned by Motorola. One feature of these satellites, noticeable to those of us living on Earth, is that as the satellites rotate, their solar panels will reflect sunlight to the ground. The reflections (called Iridium flares) can be very bright, but last for only a few seconds. If you know when a satellite is going by, and where it will be in the night sky, it will look very much like a shooting star! If you've seen a meteor before, you know they move very fast and last for only a split-second. Iridium flares look like a shooting star in slow motion, giving you time to point it out. With the added benefit of being predictable.
So how do you find one? Look it up online, of course!
To look up when an Iridium flare will be happening near you, I recommend a website called Heavens Above:
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
Now that you have a list of flares, how do you know which one to use? And when and where in the sky will it appear?
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 find where the flare will appear in the sky, you need to have an idea of altitude and azimuth. Altitude is how high in the sky it will be, while Azimuth is the direction, measured from North.
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
I recommend that you write out a "script" of what you want to say. Don't wing it, or you might miss the flare because it took too long, or end up waiting too long to see the flare, reducing the impact of your words. You will have to imagine what your significant other is likely to say. You don't need to get their words exactly right, just imagine what they are likely to say, so you can work an appropriate pause into your script for it. Your script might look something like this:
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
Now that you have a script, you need to rehearse it. You don't want to leave anything up to chance, rehearsing will get you more comfortable with your words, and it will sound more natural when the time comes to say it for real. Rehearse it again and again, and make sure you memorize it! If you can get a trusted friend to rehearse it with you, even better. Just don't give them "her" lines. They should be ad lib-ing just like your girlfriend will be.
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
Now you need to synchronize your watch. The heavens-above site has a "What time is it?" link. Synchronize your watch to this time exactly, to the second. You could use the NIST.gov site too, just make sure you get your time zone right.
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!
Ok, so the big day has arrived! Don't get too nervous. Have a nice dinner with your future wife, and suggest a relaxing walk afterwards.
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
Sure, you might have missed Valentines Day, but these flares happen all the time. If the timing doesn't work out, or it was cloudy, or you just didn't see it this time, you CAN try again. Just find another date/time from the website that will work, and try it again. You probably should change your script a little though, so it doesn't sound too rehearsed (even just to say "Remember when I said I would wish for us to live happily ever after? I meant that.").
Step 13: Postscript
Ok, some people may think this instructable is being deceptive, trying to pass a satellite off as a shooting star and all. I beg to differ, but if that bothers you, later on you could confess to your love that it wasn't actually a shooting star that you both saw. I would just give it a little time before confessing... and be sure to soften the blow by telling her about all the planning and rehearsal you put into it! I'm sure she'll still love you just the same.
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.
Participated in the
Valentine's Day Challenge