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Backyard Series: Be An Astronomer

Backyard Series: Be An Astronomer

Backyard Series: Be an Astronomer

“It may be that our cosmic curiosity… is a genetically-encoded force that we illuminate when we look up and wonder.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

I fell in love with the night sky while camping as a child watching the sky turn dark over the sand dunes on Lake Michigan. Since that summer night, I’ve been inclined to search the darkened sky for my favorite constellation, Orion, and to catch a glimpse of a celestial body moving across the night. My oldest daughter fell in love with “la luna” when she was a toddler and her younger sister is entranced by that same moon which she refers to as “the rock in the sky” that follows us on night time drives. Now we spend our evenings searching the sky for magic and you can TOO…

Here are six ways to introduce your family to the night sky:

  1. Head outside on a clear night and observe the sky, have your family tell you what they see. Create an astronomy journal to record your nightly observations and watch the night sky change!
  2. Watch the moon as it transitions through the different phases, have your child record the moon each night for a month in their astronomy journal.
  3. Head outside for a nighttime picnic or hike and look for constellations. Great places to do this are in a local park, away from city lights.  You can print a map here of your local sky to take with you!
  4. Break out your binoculars! You don’t need a telescope to improve your night sky viewing, a pair of binoculars will magnify the night sky and increase your star gazing power.
  5. Head to your local library and pick up a few books on the night sky to read with your children. (Some which I suggest below.) Then go explore the night sky.
  6. Head to a local planetarium, many planetariums have a variety of shows to view ranging from constellations to trips through time. Find a planetarium near you here.

These simple activities will not only immerse you into a love for our planet and beyond but will also allow you to spend time together enjoying the outdoors with your family. Next week, we will learn how to have a “rockin'” good time as our Backyard series continues with “Be a Geologist.”

In the meantime, check out this list of books to pick up to learn more about the night sky.


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