The best time of the year to introduce children and family to the night sky is here – An amazing lineup of meteor displays, dazzling planets, and plenty more reasons to look up at the night sky. Dust off those telescopes, because three breathtaking astronomical events will occur on the same evening this upcoming weekend. From the evening of Feb. 10 into the morning of Feb. 11, space observers will be treated to quite the stunning show, as a snow moon, lunar eclipse, and New Year comet will simultaneously light up the sky.
Chances are you’ll be outside in the evening anyway, enjoying the wonderful weather this time of the year. So, why not treat them to a night under the stars?
After all, eyeball astronomy is free! Besides, there’s a lot overhead to see. Even if you’re not blessed with skies dark enough to reveal the Milky Way, the skies will offer many bright stars that can serve as jumping-off points to a celestial treasure hunt.
Before you head out the door with everyone in tow, make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable.
Lawn chairs that recline are perfect for stargazing, but even a couple of blankets spread out will do. Insect repellent is generally a must, but warm clothes are also a good idea — once the Sun sets, the temperature can fall rapidly, and standing still or lying down will cool your body quickly. Finally, everyone gets hungry, so have some healthy munchies handy.
Make stargazing a family activity!
Find and view the planets together, or spend an early morning watching a meteor shower. There are several fun projects available online using which you and the kids can build your own observing tools. After creating them together, step outside and use them!
Kids will have fun making star maps
These can be used throughout the year to locate your favorite stars and constellations, and a sundial, which they can make with your help. Enjoy reading this fun book about the Moon with the younger readers.
Celestial Fun Facts
- The Moon rises and sets every day, like the Sun.
- The Sun always rises in the morning and sets in the evening. The Moon, on the other hand, does it at a different time every day.
- Please note that after the full phase, the moon won’t rise until after sunset and rises later each night.
- When it gets too late, get up just after sunrise and watch the moon continue east.
- When it gets close to crescent phase again, you may need to get up before sunrise to see earth shine again.
- The moon rises and sets at specific times, according to what phase it is in:
- The new moon rises and sets at approximately the same time as the sun. The full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.
- The full moon is the only moon that will be overhead in the middle of the night.
- The full moon is a lunar phase occurring when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun and all three bodies are aligned in a straight line. It appears as an entire circle in the sky.
- The November full moon is known as – Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon
- The second full moon occurring within a calendar month is called a Blue Moon.
So dust off those binoculars and mark your calendar! Hoping for clear Skies!
Sources: National Geographic, Kids Astronomy