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Enjoy Some Astronomical Fun For a Change!

One of my superpowers (we all have them) is coming up with creative ideas for Family Fun. What could be more fun than an evening of wishing on a shooting star… or, better yet, a bunch of shooting stars?

In honor of Embrace Your Geekiness Day (I’m a science geek), I’m sharing this today so you can mark your calendar.

On July 29, 2020 and August 12, 2020, two spectacular annual meteor showers (a.k.a. shooting stars) will be at their peak. That’s enough time for you to have your kids research where to find them in the evening sky, and the best hour for viewing them. (Hint: The July Aquarids will be appear around the constellation Aquarius, and the August Perseids will appear in the Perseus constellation.)

But wait! There’s more!

Print out Star Chart Wheels for your viewing pleasure. Use the Star Chart Wheels while lying on your back. Hold the chart up like you’re taking a picture of the sky, and then turn the wheel until you find the same constellations on the chart as the ones twinkling down on you. For some more Astronomical Fun, look up the mythological stories behind the constellation so you can share them with your family.

If you can, try to pick a place where there aren’t a lot of lights. Then, spread out your blankets, lie down, and wait. If you can do it safely, watch them from your roof, or visit a golf course or beach after dark. Bring blankets, star maps, flashlights and hot chocolate.

To optimize your viewing, Close your eyes and let them get used to the dark. Tilt your head towards the sky, and open your eyes so that you can only see the stars. It takes a moment or two for your eyes to adjust. Hopefully the moon won’t be out because the light of the silvery moon washes out starlight.

If you have binoculars or a telescope, bring them to enhance the experience, but don’t expect them to aid in viewing shooting stars. Meteors entering the atmosphere are fleeting at best. Better yet, bring a camera that will allow you to hold the shutter open. Mount it on a tripod and create a picture of Star Trails. You get perfect circles if you point it at the North Star (hint: it’s not the biggest and brightest star), but you also get really cool sweeping arcs if you point it elsewhere.

Then settle back for an evening of conversation, silliness, cosmic connection, and the periodic, “There’s one! ” (followed by either, “Oooh!” or “I missed it!”)

Have a wonderful time!
Deborah

PS What is one of your superpowers?

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