Properly Wishing Upon a Star

Wishing upon a star is common practice in our society. But to do this properly, might I suggest you consult an astronomer first or at least listen to my words.

One of the commonest ways to wish upon a star is to make a wish off a shooting star. I’m not sure if this one even works because a shooting star is not really a star. You are really wishing upon a meteor or a meteorite. If you think these burning rocks are enough to make your wish come true, then so be it.

My standing wish for these things, (and I used to see a lot doing astronomy in dark skies) is that any meteorites that make it to earth, don’t destroy people upon landing. And if you ever see a real star suddenly shoot across the sky from a stand still, please alert your local astronomer. Because a real star streaking across the night sky would be going much faster than the speed of light. The tremendous distance of real stars makes this so.

Many have heard and spread the following poem:

Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

The first star you can see at night, is of course the brightest point of light in the sky besides the sun and moon. That is usually not a star. I repeat, the first “star” at night is usually a planet and not a star.

Venus can become the brightest of all the planets. If you insist on wishing upon a star, Venus is always reasonably close to the setting sun when it is in the evening sky. So you can somewhat correct for this.

Jupiter is almost always out, when not near the sun, and is all that time brighter than all the stars. It could however be in the morning sky so it might not be the brightest “star” in the evening because it hasn’t risen yet.

Mars becomes as bright as Jupiter for the portion of its trip around the sun that it is closest to earth. So here is the third chance that you may be wishing upon a planet.

If you are a purist and demand that the point of light you are wishing upon be both the brightest and a star, there are times when this is true. Consult an astronomer to make sure.

I found this bizarre explanation of why you are supposed to wish upon the first star visible in the evening. It assumes you are deliberately seeking Venus and the goddess of love for the wish. The fatal flaw is that Venus is not normally the first star in the evening. Half the time it is in the morning sky and some of the time too close to the sun to be visible.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet
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