Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stargazing

These 100-degree afternoons are keeping my fair-skinned kids indoors, and that gets booorrring fast.  (for all of us)  For most of the day, we read books, work some algebra, and diagram plant cells -- no summer vacation for us this year!  But there's only so much grammar and long division we can do before our brains begin to melt like the ice cubes in our sweet tea.  A bit of outdoor, cooler temp fun is in order.  Now, we're looking forward to nightfall. . .


You can download your own free Sky Map here.

. . . for some stargazing!  One of the perks of living in west Texas (and on a spot outside the city) is the wiiiiide open spaces.  The night sky is breathtaking!  My boys especially love stargazing, and they always make sure they have a current Sky Map on hand to locate different celestial bodies. 

Also necessary -

~ a comfy place to lay (or sit, if you prefer.)


~ a soft glow (for Sky Map reading).


~ a dark location.  The farther away from city glare / light pollution, the better.  Observatories are an excellent option if you don't live in the country or have access to a safe place to gaze.  (I can't wait to visit the McDonald Observatory!)

~ items for your comfort, such as a blanket or jacket to keep warm, and some kid-safe bug repellent.

~ great viewing weather.  You'll want to pick a clear, calm night for the most enjoyable experience.  Tonight is a new moon, so the stars will be twinkling in all their glory.  For an extra-special treat, plan your stargazing during a meteor shower(Yay for the upcoming Perseids!)  We LOVE watching and counting meteors, and wishing on falling stars!

And of incredible importance -

~ Patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  Oh, and low expectations.  There's only so long a kid-staying-up-past-bedtime can stay still and look at the heavens above. 



Nice to have, but certainly not necessary -

~ tasty beverages and snacks.  (Homemade moon pies, perhaps?  YUM.)


~ a telescope or binoculars (neither of which my boys use.)

So a nice, cool, FREE and (dare I whisper?) educational activity is planned for tonight.  And I bet more than a few fun summer memories will be made to boot!

(These are just some super-basic tips (and how we do it) and I am in no way an expert on stargazing.  Try an awesome website like Sky & Telescope for the real expert stargazing scoop.)

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