If you fancy a night time adventure, wrap up warm, head outdoors and try to spot as many constellations as you can - read on to learn our top tips and facts for stargazing with children.
Let your children stay up late one evening as a treat and see how many stars they can find and name. You could even camp out under the stars in your own garden or head further afield.
How to get started
Begin by looking at a star chart
- this is a representation or a map of the night sky. These can be very useful for introducing stars and constellations to children. Can you spot the moon? This is a great starting point for kids to practice their stargazing. However, it might not always be there and might change shape, so keep your eyes peeled! ????????????????
Find the Big Dipper
⭐ Determine which way is north - you can use a compass to locate it. Look up! ⭐ In spring, the Big Dipper (or Plough as it is also known) will be higher in the sky than in other seasons ⭐ The Big Dipper is shaped like a bowl and a handle. There are three stars in the Big Dipper’s handle organised in a line, it looks a bit like a kite ⭐ The Big Dipper is made up of seven stars: Alkaid, Mizar, Alioth, Megrez, Phecda, Merak, Dubhe
Find Orion's Belt
⭐ From the Northern hemisphere, Orion is located in the North-Western sky ⭐ The three stars of the Orion’s Belt are evenly spaced and form a more or less straight line - this can be seen in the photo below ⭐ The stars are known as the Three Kings, Three Marys, Frigg’s Distaff, Three Sisters or the Weighing Beam
Top tips for stargazing
⭐ Stargazing is best done before the moon is full, so look into the next new moon dates
before you set out on your adventure ⭐ Step foot in your local park or garden, ideally away from any artificial light, to see up clearly into the sky. Having a clear view will enable children to see as much of the sky as possible ⭐ Even with clear skies or warmer temperatures, stargazing can be a cold activity. Be sure to wrap up, stay cosy and wear appropriate clothing
⭐ During your stargazing sessions, you will witness some truly beautiful sights - it's a fantastic activity for children. Over time they may want to see more of the sky and explore new patterns; your budding astronomer may even need a pair of binoculars or even a telescope to help.
Fun facts on stargazing
⭐ The sun is actually a star. If you hollowed it out you could fit nearly one million earths inside it ⭐ Space is only around 60 miles from the surface of the earth! ⭐ “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” but stars don’t actually twinkle! It's just the turbulence in the atmosphere. Happy stargazing! ????