After Dark

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stargazingSummer is such a fun time for relaxed outdoor learning. Warm summer evenings are a great opportunity to learn about astronomy, especially since you don't have to worry about "school night" bedtimes.

Something my family looks forward to in August is the Perseid Meteor Shower event. Do you know about that? From mid-July to mid-August, we enjoy looking for "falling stars." Of course, the showers are best seen if you can get way out in the country away from the city lights.

One August, late in the evening after it got dark, we grabbed blankets and pillows and piled into the pick-up and headed out for a dark country road. Once we reached a safe place to pull over, with no man-made lights in sight, we spread our blankets in the back of the truck and laid on our backs looking up at the stars. It took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust to the deep darkness, but then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash across the sky. "There's one!" I pointed. Of course, by the time the others looked, it was gone. But then someone else saw one. We realized it wasn't possible to point them out to each other, but by keeping our eyes on the sky, it really did seem to be a shower of falling stars. That was a fun family memory.

Other times we've stayed up to watch a lunar eclipse. There's one coming up September 28 this year. Of course, it will depend on where you are... and the weather! to whether or not you'll be able to see it.

Even when there's "nothing special" going on in the sky, we still enjoy looking at the stars, picking out constellations, and noticing the appearance of some of the planets at various times.

I'm actually not all that knowledgeable about the skies, but we have read several books on the subject over the years and I love the Google Sky Map app on my phone. It identifies stars, planets, and even satellites. Occasionally I'll notice an extra bright star that isn't usually there, so I click on the app, hold the phone up towards the sky, and find out that it's Mars... or one of the other planets. Not that I can do anything about it. I just like knowing.

I've collected some great books and activities about astronomy on our Pinterest board, if you need more ideas.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
Psalm 19:1-2

Have you ever taken your kids out at night just to look at the sky? I'd love to hear about it!

Enjoying the adventure,
~Karla Cook
Lifelong Learner

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