If you have small children at home, you will surely know a lot about sharpening their wits so they can have fun. But with summer drawing to a close, it 's very possible that your ideas have already run out . The summer months are perfect to enjoy time outdoors.
The nights, for example, are a perfect time to enjoy astronomical contemplation . In fact, an activity that you can organize with your little ones before the end of the summer (and the good weather) can be teaching them to look at the stars.
Today we want to propose up to twenty tricks that will be very practical for you to enlighten your children about the beautiful art of discovering the stars in the sky . They will learn, but most likely you will also learn a lot, about the wonderful world that is up there. We give you 20 useful tricks, below.
1. Different seasons, different constellations
The stars are not the same in all parts of the planets. In fact, there are stars that can never be seen from the northern hemisphere in the southern hemisphere and vice versa. But there is another question: because the stars are not only for the summer. Depending on the season of the year, you will be able to see some constellations or others.
- Summer: Lyre, Swan, Hercules
- Autumn: Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia
- Winter: Orion, Taurus, Gemini
- Spring: Leo, Virgo, The Cup
2. Astronomy for girls and boys: an official website
If you want your children to learn about the stars , you will first have to be the one to investigate. Or you can start together on this exciting path of learning. There is a website called Astronomy for Boys and Girls (Ministry of Education and Science) that does not have a very new design, but that includes very interesting information to enter this world.
You can learn together about the solar system , get basic information about the stars or astronomy in general, and enjoy endless games. It is an inexhaustible source of learning, from which your little ones (and even you) will have a lot of fun.
3. Choose the time and place well
It is very important to be well prepared to make the observations. The first thing, that adults know very well what they do , wear the right clothes and shoes (especially if we go in winter). It is also essential to find a good place, away from obstacles and lights, so that the sky is as clean as possible.
It is also essential to organize the day at an optimal weather time . Nights with a full moon are not the best for stargazing, due to the strong illumination from the satellite. That is why we recommend that you have a good weather application installed on your mobile. You have the AEMET or AccuWeather app at your disposal.
4. Orient yourself at night: the Pole Star
To make a good observation, it is important that adults are well oriented and teach children to orient themselves. But how? If you have never done it before, you should know that the first thing will be to look for the Pole Star. Although to achieve this, you will first have to look for the Big Dipper (which is known as the Chariot) and then join the stars at the end of the Chariot towards the more open side. That is the direction that points to the Pole Star we are looking for. Observation can begin!
5. Google Sky
A good place to look for almost everything is Google. Did you know that from Google Sky you can access countless images made by NASA to see the sky? From this page you can contemplate the main constellations and discover countless curiosities (in high quality photos) about what is up there. You can also try connecting to Google Earth to find out more about the sky.
6. NASA Space Planet
Surely you could imagine that NASA has its own website dedicated to children. You will see that it is NASA Space Planet, a page perfectly translated into Spanish, from which the little ones can access infinite information, not only related to the stars and the universe, but also to the Earth, the Sun, the Solar System or Technology . Here, young and old, you will find basic information to become true aces of astronomy
7. Sky Map: the sky on your mobile
If you are not very skilled in astronomy yet, surely you should let yourself be helped by all the resources that we discuss, but also by the large number of applications that you have at your disposal . Sky Map is one of the most popular guides for identifying stars, planets, nebulae, and much more. First on the mobile and then up there, to show them to your little ones or have them look for them with you.
8. Learn everything about stars and constellations
If you are not sure what kind of stars or constellations you can see in the sky, it may be convenient to study them a little first. Within the page of the Ministry of Education there is a space where you can learn countless things about the stars. For now, you can start with these and also know the constellations, know which are the brightest stars or discover shooting stars.
9. Take some binoculars
It is possible that after a long time watching the stars, you and the little ones are tired. A good option to relax your eyes is to buy astronomical binoculars . These weigh a bit, but they sure help you (all of you) to enjoy the experience more and better. They are the Celestron 71008 and cost 93 euros.
10. The universe in a jar
There is something that can happen, both in summer and at any time of the year. Let it Rain. If you cannot go out to see the stars because the rain is spoiling the night , perhaps you can do another interesting activity: which is to enclose the universe in a jar. This is a nice experiment for which you will need the following ingredients:
- A small glass jar or bottle
- Food coloring or tempera of different colors (light blue, dark blue and red)
- Glitter and stars
- Some cotton
- A teaspoon to stir
First you will have to add a little water, mix the light blue tempera, and then add cotton, along with a little glitter and stars. Repeat the same process, but now with dark blue paint. And continue, incorporating layers, to finish with the red tempera. Don't forget to stir a bit when pouring the paint to create a weathered effect. You will see that the result is beautiful.
11. Celestial Map: point to the sky
Another interesting application with which you will learn to identify stars and constellations is the Celestial Map. The tool is super easy to use : all you have to do is point the device towards the sky so that the application shows the names of the stars, constellations and planets.
It can be incredibly useful for non-astronomy experts . As you learn more, you will know that it can work to check the orbital position of the planet in the solar system and do it on a separate screen. Stars below the horizon are included in the viewing.
12. Showers of stars
The Leonids or the Perseids are the most popular meteor showers. But what exactly are they? Well, a trace of gases and dust (comet tails) that we can observe in different comets rotating around the Sun. Depending on the time of year, the Earth goes through some orbits or others, so there are periods when it is easier to see These are called Meteor Showers .
- Quadrantids (From December 28 to January 7. Peak: January 3)
- Líridas (From April 16 to 25. Peak: April 21)
- Eta Acuáridas (From April 21 to May 12. Peak: May 5 or 6)
- Perseids (From July 23 to August 22. Peak: August 12)
- Aquarids (From August 11 to September 10. Peak: April 21)
- Alpha Capricorns (From July 15 to September 11. Peak: August 1 or 2)
- Orionids (October 15-29. Peak: October 21 or 22)
- Leonidas (From November 14 to 20. Peak: November 17)
- Geminids (From December 6 to 19. Peak: December 13 and 14)
13. ESA Kids
The European Space Agency (ESA) also has its own website for children and it is available in Spanish. It includes very interesting information adapted to the little ones, but which can also be useful for older people who want to start in the world of astronomy . You will find very curious stories, multimedia content and games to learn. And later? Well, let's see the stars out there!
14. The best places to see the stars
Our country is a good place to see the stars. In fact, there are countless places where you and the little ones can enjoy optimal observations . In Sapos y Princesas they have developed a map in which you can find the location of the best places to observe the stars. A delight for families who, in addition to seeing what happens up there, want to enjoy discovering new places on the mainland.
15. Make a constellation lantern
If you immerse your little ones in this starry world, you will soon find that they turn this activity into a charming obsession. An activity to do at home, once you are familiar with the constellations, is to make a constellation lantern. You will need a flashlight, a few paper cupcake liners, and print these templates. After cutting out the templates and sticking them in the molds, you have to make a little hole right where the stars are. To finish you have to place an elastic band and from there, project the constellations anywhere.
16. An exam on the stars
After we have learned so much about the stars, it is time to put ourselves to the test . The little ones will enjoy this test to demonstrate their knowledge and compete with others, to see who has assumed all this knowledge before and better. You can (and can) do it here.
17. Build a cut-out celestial planisphere
And now we propose an activity that you can do together at home. It is a cut-out celestial planisphere proposed by the Jerezana Magallanes Astronomical Group. You can download the template, print it yourself at home and follow the instructions to assemble it. It is perfect to know the constellations at any time while observing the sky at night.
18. Printable planetary maps
The little ones who are interested in the stars, will probably also see other concerns grow in them to discover other things related to astronomy. The resources that we have proposed will help you a lot, but now we want to provide you with another one, which is a collection of planetary maps to print. You will see that there is the one of Venus, the Moon, Mars, Io, Europa and Titan.
19. Star Walk: Astronomy for children
We propose you one last application, this one specifically for children, with which they will surely have fun discovering and trying to guess stars and constellations. Basic fundamentals of astronomy are explained, there are games, educational cartoons about space and even tests to test your knowledge.
20. Astro-hobby: making plans with children
We especially liked this page, so to finish, we are going to recommend you visit Astroafición. There is a lot of information here, but also very interesting activities, such as Astronomer for a day or Passport to Space . They are perfect for little astronomers willing to make their initiatory journey.