Kids' Summer Stargazing Guide
Summer's a great season to interest the kids in stargazing — after all, they seem to be staying up later and later each night, right? Here, MomSpeaker EJ Curran shares her plan for introducing kids to the night sky.
Our most recent visit to The Franklin Institute got my monsters' curious brains whirling again, specifically in the direction of the night sky. We had the opportunity to visit the museum's Planetarium, showing To Space & Back, which taught us how technology developed for use in space and has transformed the way we live on Earth. After the show, the kids came home with a renewed adoration for the night sky, so we got busy putting together a plan for exploring the stars and the universe above. Here's our guide to summer stargazing, from our family to yours:
Begin with eyes upward, right after sunset.
After dinner is over and the wiggles are out, step outside after the sun goes down. Although it's darkest past midnight, there's still plenty to see in the summer night sky just after the sun sets. This is an opportune time to set up the camping chairs in the back yard and look up. Have the kids — and yourself — focus on breathing, relaxing and looking upward. Take turns pointing out what you see.
Excite the kids with cool stargazing gear.
Any dedicated star gazer will appreciate the gift of magnification. If your child has a summer birthday, that's the perfect excuse to invest in a kid-friendly telescope or a great pair of binoculars.
Locate constellations for great story-telling.
Kids love a good story, and there's no better time to brush up on your mythology than under a summer night sky. Mythological legends often tie together heroes, enemies, enchanted animals and terrible monsters. Sounds like a Disney movie, right? Pull up a mythology story website on the tablet and start reading out loud! There are hundreds of stories in the stars. The kids can find specific constellations in the sky that go along with the story you choose.
Grab a constellation guide and a space-themed reading list at Scholastic.com/Summer.
Visit a state park or stargazing program.
Here in Delaware, several State Parks offer stargazing programs and meteor shower viewings throughout the season, appropriate for beginners and advanced stargazers. You can also visit an observatory, like the one at Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation, for more stargazing programs and opportunities that are kid-friendly.
EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post is adapted from her blog, Four Little Monsters, at FourLittleMonsters.com.