Dreamy and educational, stargazing for kids is another reason to love looking up at the night sky.
It's a fun activity for the whole family. Plus, stargazing provides an opportunity to teach children about astronomy and the environment. Kids can even grasp math concepts by counting the stars and recognizing patterns between them.
While it's helpful to get away from the city to see as many stars as possible, even stargazing in town can start important conversations about our solar system, where Earth is within the universe, and how light pollution impacts our ability to view the night sky.
Scope Out the Stars
If you are new to stargazing and would like a simple way to start, download an app. I use the free version of SkyView. The app uses the camera on my device to detect constellations, stars, planets, and more. You can tap on the name of the stars and planets for more information, including history and facts about each celestial body.
If you are searching for stars in a city with light pollution or on an overcast night, the app shows you what you would see with a clear sky. In that case, it's easy to have a conversation with your family about what light pollution is and how it affects the environment. Whether you're able to see a sky full of stars or not, your kids will enjoy diving into the science of the stars, planets, and constellations.
After you try stargazing at home, take your apps and maps on a family camping trip away from artificial lights to give your kids another experience of the night sky.
Bright Nights and City Lights
Not being able to see many stars while stargazing might be confusing to kids, but use the opportunity to educate them about humans' impact on the environment. Once you start discussing the effects of light pollution, they may be curious to know what we can do to help.
Explain to your kids that it takes a lot of resources to keep cities illuminated throughout the day and night, which can harm the planet. The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies states that light pollution can disrupt natural ecosystems and the wild animals that depend on them. When the expected rhythm of day and night is disrupted, mating and migration behaviors can change, making it harder for animals to thrive in their habitats.
Illuminate the Way
To be a part of the solution, try using outdoor lamp fixtures that direct light downward to its intended target. This way, the light source is used for its intended purpose, rather than illuminating the sky and surrounding area. Targeted light fixtures work equally well for home porch lights and bigger initiatives like outdoor sports complexes. You and your kids can also start brainstorming ways to save electricity at home.
Once you spend an evening stargazing for kids, your family will become more informed about the health of the environment and the impacts of light pollution. There is nothing like admiring the night sky to inspire us to protect our planet.
Does your family stargaze? What celestial facts do your kids love learning about? Let us know on Twitter!
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Why It's Good
Stargazing is a fun way to teach kids about their planet and the universe. Looking at the stars provides an opportunity to start a conversation about the effects of light pollution and how to be a better Earth citizen, no matter your age.