Stargazing is a wonderful way to spend time with your children – and a great way to turn that time into something educational. Astronomy is more than just gazing at stars – it teaches children about the universe, provides them with what can be a lifelong hobby or even a career later in life. A perfect time to start stargazing is when your children are studying space as part of their school’s curriculum.
Astronomy is more than just grabbing a set of binoculars or a telescope and looking into the night sky. To gain a true appreciation of the wonderment that the constellations can bring, spend an evening with your children looking at the sky the way it was meant to be seen – with just the naked eye. This allows your child to really get an idea of just how enormous the sky is and the beauty it contains, without the narrow focus of a telescope lens.
Start by teaching your children to look at and understand the phases of the moon and the bigger, easier-to-see constellations like The Big Dipper and the North Star. You’ll be surprised how excited your children will be when they realize that they can recognize a constellation and can point it out to you.
If you aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the constellations yourself, this presents the opportunity for you to learn right along with your children! Research to see if your local library or town offers classes on astronomy that you can take together, or you might look into the subject online. There are plenty of software and websites out there that can turn your computer into a mini planetarium! Another place to visit would be a local science museum, which will have plenty of information and fun activities for a young astronomer to enjoy.
Perhaps the biggest attraction to astronomy is that you (and your children) are only limited by your imaginations. When you and your children have grasped the basics of stargazing, you can literally spend hours discovering all that the universe has to offer.