Sky Watching With Children

14 Oct 2017

OSR blog post

How do we get children interested in looking at the night sky? What are some tools to help them enjoy the experience? Read on to learn more about sky watching with children.

The sky is alive with myths and monsters and gods. Whether it is the legends behind the zodiac, the names of the planets, or the wide variety of tales associated with celestial phenomena, the night sky is interesting. It holds tales of ancient stories, heroes, and legends. Science Fiction stories tell of extraterrestrials, huge spaceships, and invasions.

Kids First Look

Most children have natural questions about the objects in the sky. We teach them about the Sun, the Moon, and the clouds. We work to explain why the sky is blue, and why the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. In addition to the daytime features, we can show them interesting objects in the nighttime sky as well. A sense of imagination can help bring the celestial world to life with children.

Inexpensive Tools

Binoculars can bring objects like the moon up close and personal for a child. They require no setup and are less expensive than a telescope. A small set of binoculars will work better for children’s hands and not weigh as much, therefore making their viewing time pleasurable. With a wider field of view, binoculars bring in more sky and may better suit the things a child wants to view. It also allows them the opportunity to view objects the way they want to.

Timing is Everything

Having a child stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch a meteor shower may not make the best first experience. Children tire quickly and may lose interest right after the sun sets. Depending on the age of the child, you will want to take into account what they would enjoy. The late setting Sun of summer may leave little time before they go to bed. Plan a small trip to see a quarter moon, Jupiter, or Saturn. With darkness setting in early, winter brings many opportunities to see constellations. Be sure to bring warm clothes to keep them cozy while gazing. Print off several pictures of the animal constellations so the child can understand what the cancer crab looks like, or the pieces fish. Be prepared for them to want to see all the animals in the sky.

Older Children

For a child that becomes very interested and wants a more advanced way of seeing a star, you will want to consider a telescope. Invest in something that easily sets up and works well. A frustrated budding astronomer will lose interest quickly if the equipment fails to deliver a great viewing experience. With smartphone technology, many apps are available to help view the nighttime sky. You can point your smartphone toward the night sky and the images of constellations will populate. Planets will also fill the screen if they are in a position related to where you are standing. The app may also show you the ISS orbiting the earth and its trajectory.

Sharing the amazing night sky with children will open up an amazing experience filled with creatures, stories, heroes, and legends. Enjoy showing them the craters on the moon and the animals of the constellations. Don’t worry if you do not know the answers to their questions. You can always look the answers up here at the Online Star Register or at the local library. Just remember to enjoy your time spent with a child seeing the wonder of our universe for the first time.