Anyone can gaze into the night sky and see stars and planets. As a child, you may remember staring out at the starry sky, observing the constellations or contemplating the vastness of the universe. Stargazing is astounding as a child, so why not pack up a cosy picnic and head out with your children to create memorable moments under the stars by following Tinkerer’s top tips.

Where to Gaze

Choosing where you will go to stargaze can be trickier than first anticipated, especially if you live in a big city. To gaze requires somewhere dark with little light polluting. It’s best to get away from the city and go to hills or beaches, where there is often less light and more open sky overhead so you view isn’t blocked by trees or large structures.

Note: If you head to the beach, you can also inform your child of the tides and how the moon’s pull on the seas creates them.

Getting Ready

Things to bring with you:

  • Bring blankets, jackets or coats to make sure everyone stays nice and warm.
  • Have snacks and water or hot beverages to keep everyone warm. You could even have a moonlit picnic.
  • Bring a mat to lie on. It is best to stargaze while laying down, or small children might get tired otherwise.
  • Keep a torch with you, and let your children hold torches too for their safety.
  • If you aren’t sure which way north is, then take a compass with you, this will help your child when they are using their Star Wheel.
  • If you have a camera and a tripod, you and your child might be able to capture some of the wonders of the sky at night. If you do not have a camera, then using your phone to take photos of the memorable night with your family is possible as well.

 

You do not need a telescope.  Telescopes are expensive, cumbersome, and tricky to use. There is already plenty to see without one. For example, you can see lots of things with a pair of binoculars, such as the moons of Jupiter. See page 9 and 10 in the Explore book, The Sky at Night for more information.

Important Considerations

Things to consider:

  • Check the weather forecast, if it is cloudy, you won’t see as much, and if it is rainy or windy, you might be too cold and wet to enjoy the night.
  • It is usually better to stargaze in the winter months. This is because when the weather is cooler there is less humidity, and the humidity can cause haze. The nights also get darker earlier so you can head out earlier, so your little ones aren’t too sleepy. Although, don’t let this deter you too much from also having a fun summer excursion.
  • You can use a red torch to help your eyes adjust in the darkness. Also, try not to look at the phone screen as they have a brighter light. It can take up to 30 mins for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, so not looking at your phone and using a red torch can help this.
  • You can download an app to help you pick which locations might be best for stargazing.

 

The Moon

You should check the moon cycle. If the objective for your evening is to look at the moon, then anytime the moon is out will be a good opportunity, be it full, half full or crescent. If you take binoculars with you, the lunar craters will be even more visible. Use you’re The Sky at Night magazine, (page 9 and 10), in the Planetarium box to learn the names of the craters and what other details you can see.

Stars, Constellations and Planets

Again, look at the moon cycle. If you want to go out to see the stars or planets, it is better to go stargazing before a full moon and on a moonless night. The Star Wheel in the Planetarium Tinkerer box can be used to help your child identify the constellations. After they have found well-known constellations, why not try to make your own constellations by dotting the dots, or in this case, the stars. On a notepad, your little ones can map new constellations by linking stars they see in the sky. After mapping their new constellations, you can also create myths surrounding them.

Last but not least, if you are lucky, you might even be able to make a wish on a shooting star, which are not stars, but small pieces of rocks from space that fall and burn into the upper atmosphere.

We hope you have fun on your starry moonlit adventures. For more information on the night sky, follow the link below to our Planetarium Tinkerer box, where your child can make their light-up planetarium and discover the wonders of the night sky.

 

https://www.tinkererbox.com/product-detail/planetarium/5dedeef61e14f90f10c9c876

 

Written by,

Rebecca Clifton

 

 

Shutterstock: image one- 1114809962, image two-1321002092, image three-1159598035