The fairy lights are packed away and we are staring dark January in the face – HOORAY! It’s time for Stargazing Live!
Returning for a third year this fantastic programme runs over three nights next week (8th – 10th January 2013) and aims to encourage us all to get out there appreciating the night sky. Children are naturally curious about the wonders of space and January’s dark early evenings are crying out for a bit of stargazing so wrap up warm, grab binoculars, a telescope and a flask of hot chocolate and look heavenwards!
You can stargaze anywhere from your back garden to your local park but light pollution will limit how much you can see. While younger children are probably best wrapped up in a sleeping bag lying in a deck chair in the back garden, it is well worth making the effort with older ones to find somewhere free of artificial light. In the summer camping trips make for ideal stargazing opportunities but in the winter get out into the countryside and climb a hill.
You can download an app to your phone which uses GPS to show you what you are looking at, I have SkyView Free on my iPhone and there is a list of suitable apps over on the Stargazing website as well as a really useful downloadable star guide.
You can, of course, also take a book or paper map with you. I gave Philip’s Stargazing 2013 to my husband for Christmas but he is well aware that he is expected to share! It’s a month by month guide to the sky so it should keep us busy!
We also have this book which is packed full of space activities to do with children from about 7 years and up
Tune in to BBC2 at 8pm every Tuesday for the next three weeks to watch Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain broadcasting live from the Jodrell Bank Observatory. As well as answering some of the Big Questions about space they, and various experts, will be offering hints and tips to get you started with star gazing and to help you navigate your way around the night sky.
As in previous years there are a variety of events being held up and down the country organised by the BBC and by their trusted partners. Look here for the full list and to find out if there is an event in your neck of the woods (or atop your nearest hill!)
For more space science activity ideas have a look at Science Sparks, as well as having a go at making your own craters there is a long list of games, crafts and science stuff to keep them busy!
Seeing a shooting star or gazing in wonder at the vastness of the Milky Way for the first time, spotting Jupiter from your garden (as our soon to be 7 year old did last week) or identifying craters on the moon is not a bad way to pass the time!
Happily Shared With