Do Shooting Stars Have the Power to Fulfill Wishes?
The Real Power of a Shooting Star
Can a shooting star really fulfill someone's wish? Is the whole idea just wishful thinking, or is there any real proof that wishing on stars works?
Quick answer: No, there isn't. I searched the Internet about experiences people have had wishing on stars. I found that this practice has been followed in many cultures, since ancient times, and that a shooting star is not a star at all—it is, in fact, a meteoroid. However, these facts didn't get me any closer to the truth, so I started reading about peoples' personal stories, which included:
- One woman looking for love found it only two weeks after wishing on a shooting star!
- Another person—who has close ties with NASA and who has seen more than his fair share of shooting stars—has wished on many stars, but none of his wishes have ever come true.
- A mother whose family's financial troubles were magically resolved after wishing on a star.
I'm not equipped to say for sure if wishing on stars works or not. The majority of stories I've read about end without wishes being fulfilled, and of course, even if your wish does come true, there's no way to determine what made it happen.
But regardless of what we believe, it's probably a part of our human nature to secretly wish that shooting star-wishes might come true. So why not try? It doesn't cost a thing, and it's worth a shot!
Who Believes in Shooting Stars?
Here are some interesting facts about people throughout history who believed in luck from shooting stars.
- Swabians (who lived in southwest Germany) believed that seeing a shooting star predicted one year of good luck. On the other hand, if a Swabian saw three in one night, that meant he was doomed to die.
- After Greek astronomer Ptolemy's time (AD 127-151), there was a widely accepted and poetic explanation that when curious gods would peek down at earth, a star or two would slip down and become a shooting star. Thus, when you saw one, you knew that the gods were looking down at that very moment and so it was an excellent time to have your wishes heard by the gods.
- In Chile, if you see a meteor you're supposed to immediately pick up a stone for luck.
- In the Philippines, if you see a shooting star, for good luck you must tie a knot in a handkerchief before the meteor stops falling.
- In Switzerland, a meteor was considered to possess the power of God.
- In some Baltic countries and central Europe, people thought that each person had their own personal star which, when they died, died with them and fell from the sky. This is why it was common practice to say something like "rest in peace" or "go with God" if you saw a meteor.
- When the Ensisheim meteorite fell in Alsace (now France) in 1492, the holy Roman emperor Maximillian assembled a council which decided that the event was a good omen for the wars with France and the Turks.
How to Wish on a Star
Here are various rules and customs for proper wish-making:
- Close your eyes while you're wishing.
- Repeat "Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight: I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight," and then make your wish.
- You can't tell anyone what you wished, or else it won't come true.
- You must believe in your wish, or else it won't be granted.
- If you tie a knot in a handkerchief (or pick up a stone) before the meteor disappears, you'll have good luck.
What Disbelievers Say
Pragmatics: Why would anyone think that things like world peace, being successful, or finding true love depend on making the right wish at the right time? Who really thinks that a small space rock that's burning in the upper atmosphere has any effect on your life (unless of course it falls to earth and hits your house)?
Semantics: It's not a star (it's a meteor) and there's no shooting involved (it's falling). Do you really want to put all your hope on a falling rock?
Physics: If wishes and stars were connected, then presumably your wish must travel at the speed of light. The nearest star is 4.2 light years away. It would take 4.2 years for your wish to travel to that star and just as long for it to come back to you. That's eight and a half years for a wish!
How Can I See a Shooting Star?
Meteors fall all the time and can't be predicted. According to the American Meteor Society,
The number of random, or “sporadic” meteors that can be seen in the night sky is quite variable, depending upon such factors as the time of night, time of year, light pollution, and cloud conditions. Perhaps the most important factors necessary in order to observe meteors are to have a clear, unobstructed view, out in the open, and under as dark sky conditions as possible.
You might see more meteors just before sunrise. You may also see more in early fall (around September).
Of course, if there's a meteor shower, that's a great time to see a shooting star. For anyone who wants to see one, this calendar should come in handy: A Skywatching Guide to let you know what upcoming events to look for in the night sky, including meteor showers!