Stargazing For Kids: A Complete Beginners Guide For You
There are a lot of exciting ways to learn about the wonderful night sky with your children, straight from your backyard. Kids are innate scientists and the sky above is filled with amazing wonders like stars.
Observe the great sky on a number of consecutive evenings with your children and they will notice that it changes its appearance every night. The moon may seem to get bigger or smaller, while the stars may look brighter or dimmer.
The sky itself might appear darker or brighter. Your children will wonder why the changes occur.
Introduce your kids to stargazing to answer most of their questions. The sky above has many wonderful things that you can study with your family. Specially, to teach your little ones about astronomy is pretty easy.
You do not have to spend a lot of money in buying a telescope or have loads of science knowledge yourself to have fun studying the night sky together.
Frist and Foremost, Go Outside with Your Children and Identity Constellations
On a clear night sky, go outside and look at the stars with your family. It is an exciting thing to do after maybe hiking or having a picnic supper. Just switch off the television or computer and take some time to observe the wonders of the cosmos. You do not need to plan for such an activity.
Watch the stars with your kids. The constellations and planets are more visible when you're away from the street lights. If you live near a huge state or a national park, these are the best locations to view stars because they have less light pollution caused by artificial lighting.
Quite a number of stars have names. Some are actually planets and not stars. If you're lucky, you can view the international space station floating in space. To make the stargazing activity more interesting you can print a map of the constellations in your location (of course, to the nearest town). Visit Sky Map Online to get a stars map of your area.
You may also use mobile apps to identify the constellations you see in the sky, straight from your smart phone. It's simple as just pointing your iPhone/iPad/iPod at the night sky to identify different stars, constellations, planets and so on. There's a Sky View app for iPhone/iPad/iPod and a Star Chart app for Android devices.
When it comes to these apps, all you have to do is hold your smart phone or tablet up to the sky. The camera of the smart device will read the stars on the sky to identify the exact location. You will then be able to view constellations on the screen as you try to look for them on the night sky. Your kids are bound to enjoy such an activity.
It is important to note that the sky map of where you live will change according to the seasons as the Earth's tilt moves. As a result, you should ensure that you have the right map for each season or everything will look confusing. Sea & Sky provides a full list of the constellations that can be seen every month.
There are a number of great celestial occurrences that happen every year and a lot of them can be seen with the naked eye. For instance, young children will be excited to watch the night sky during the following occurrences:
- Meteor showers happen at least 6 times in a year.
- The Farmer's Almanac gives dates for when the full moon and harvest moon can be viewed.
- Time & Date gives a continuous list of future moon and sun eclipses.
Then, Visit the Nearest Observatory or Planetarium
After your kids have gone outside to view the stars with their iOS or Android devices, they may be interested to go to an observatory or planetarium. A lot of cities have observatories or planetariums that allow public viewings.
An observatory is simply a building that houses very huge and high-powered telescopes that let the public see celestial bodies, galaxies and stars. Your family and you will receive a wonderful introduction to the stars and other celestial bodies by viewing them via a huge telescope.
Find your nearest observatory or planetarium and check the shows schedule. You should choose one that is best suited for young kids. Whichever activity you choose, you're bound to have fun with your children by doing some stargazing!