Stargazing can become one of your favorite family activities. During our first year in Idaho, we lived on the edge of town. When we got home and parked the car, we could see all sorts of constellations in the sky. No big city lights to disturb us. In the winter months, it got dark by 4:00 or 5:00. We regularly saw constellations, such as Cassiopeia (W), Orion (Hunter) and of course The Big & Little Dipper.
A few years later in Idaho, we took our family to stargaze at our friend’s home in the country. Wes Callihan taught the Astronomy class my daughters took that year. Mr. Callihan showed us so many fascinating sights in the sky.
Another time, we took a weekend trip to Goldendale. On Friday night, we visited the Goldendale Observatory State Park, which houses one of the nation’s biggest public telescopes. The telescope took up the entire room and we took turns looking at special sights in the sky.
You can enjoy stargazing as a family activity too.
Tonight & tomorrow night (August 11-12, 2014) are the peak times for the Perseid meteor shower, which promises about 70 shooting stars an hour. The good news is all you have to do is get out of the city to see Perseid. The bad news the peak times for seeing the showers are midnight to dawn. But, you can still see it before & after these times. Or, plan a sleepover in the country to watch the skies.
3 Tips for Stargazing as a Family
1. Get Out of the City
The city lights block much of what is in the sky. Drive out of the city. Take a blanket or lawn chairs. Leave your cell phones in the car. Their screens make it difficult for your eyes to adjust. Then, settle in for a fabulous show.
2. Invite Your Family & Friends
You’ll have so much more fun if you invite others to join in your stargazing night. Sit back & listen for the “oohs”, “aahs” and “did you see that”.
3. Download Apps
Just in case it’s cloudy, you can use apps for simulated stargazing. Or, use the apps during the day to show your kids what to expect. Here are a few recommended by USA Weekend
- The Night Sky Lite (free on iOS & Android)
- Sky Map (free on iOS & Android)
- Pocket Universe ($2.99 on iOS)
- Mobile Observatory ($4.99 on Android)
- Starmap Standard ($4.99 on Android)
I’ve also written a free activity guide about the moon. It includes our Oreo Moon activity. You can get it free by entering your email below.
Have fun with one of our favorite family activities – stargazing. Let me know how it goes for you.
Question: What are your favorite family activities ? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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