Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our First Night of Stargazing

The goals:
  • Locate Ursa Major, the Little Dipper and Polaris
  • Play with the homemade telescope
  • Look at a planet through DH's telescope

Around 8:00, DH set up the telescope on the back porch (after some minor grumbling about advance notice next time). We found Venus, and everyone got a turn looking at is through the telescope. We watched a few airplanes and saw a satellite and what I believe was the International Space Station before the kids started getting restless because it wasn't getting dark fast enough, so we headed back inside and passed the time reading The Sky is Full of Stars by Branley and Zoo in the Sky by Mitton. About 8:45 we headed out front and found the Big Dipper. The rest of the constellation was down below the tree line. I explained again how to find Polaris. At first we could only see a few of the stars in the Little Dipper, but it finally got dark enough to see it. The kids didn't want to stop with 2 constellations, so I found Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, and finally Aquila. We turned the telescope south when the kids spotted a red star, Antares, in the constellation Scorpio. (Thank goodness we read that second book so I new what we were looking at!) We couldn't see the tail of the constellation for the trees but had a good view of the front half. The kids had a blast and asked to do it again tonight.

After all the kids were down, I convinced DH to come back out with me for a bit so we could locate some more things for the kids to see next time. We found Jupiter with it's four largest moons and a couple more constellations. I looked up the location of Mars and will go out and look for it tonight. Now I just need to change up the lesson plans to introduce more than two constellations next week to keep up with the kid's curiosity.

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