Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Brian Cox’s ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ made stargazing cool. I don’t know whether it’s his enthusiasm for all things cosmic, or just that charming big grin that he wears, but he had me sold- hook, line and sinker.
Star Spotting with the Kids
A special way to get your kids, (and whoever else is interested!) excited about the night sky is to by looking at maps (planispheres). On a clear night, take the family out into the garden, and try and spot some of the constellations. You can download and print a free star map / planisphere from Kidsastronomy.com
Share Star Stories
The constellations’ myths and legends go back to ancient Greece, and are a great way of getting kids excited and helping them to connect with all those twinkling lights. Explain to your kids how the ancient Greeks believed that their gods lived in the sky as stars.
Download a pdf of simple stories accompanied with each constellation map and read them with your kids- excellent bedtime reading material.
Make a Night of it
This might be best for late spring or summer, but how about inviting some or your kids’ friends over for a camp out when you know the sky will be clear. Roast marshmallows over a fire, drink hot chocolate and swap star stories and get spotting. If you don’t have a big enough garden, build an ‘indoor tent’ or a den in the living room and take the marshmallows and hot chocolate inside.
Planetariums and stargazing events
There are lots of mobile planetariums that offer talks and lectures, many for kids too, around the country. They offer great introductions for anyone whose keen on learning a little more. Don’t worry, you don’t need a PhD in astro-physics to understand them. Find your nearest UK planetarium here
London Science Museum
Don’t forget that the London Science Museum is free to enter and open everyday except the Christmas bank holidays. They are showing live space themed events throughout February and March. Find out more about their events at their website
Have fun exploring the night sky with your family, guaranteed to have you star struck!
- Use bright stars to find faint Monoceros the Unicorn (earthsky.org)
- Planetarium on your computer (starrym.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to Astronomy Merit Badge 2013 (starrym.wordpress.com)