Friday, May 29, 2009

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

We are all about stars around here.

Stars. Planets. Galaxies. Nebulas. Constellations.

Ever since Brian started teaching Astronomy at the college our whole family, especially Ryker, has been immersed in star gazing.

When it rains I worry about getting the yard mowed, Brian worries about the strawberries in the garden rotting and Ryker worries that it'll be too cloudy to see any stars that night.

We have a big telescope and massive binoculars at our house full time and access to the college observatory and all of it's equipment whenever we want. It has been really fun.

We've seen the rings of Saturn and the nebula in Orion's belt. We've all learned a lot.

As a matter of fact when the portable blow up planetarium thingy came to the Elementary School Ryker was so disappointed that they only showed them the basics, like Polaris and the Pleiadies. The second day that he got to attend he couldn't resist himself. He told us that he pointed out Gemini, the twins, to the instructor.

Then we had to have the talk about being a know-it-all, etc.

You may not have access to all of the star gazing equipment that we do but you can still have some fun with the nighttime sky.

One of our favorite things to do is to watch the International Space Station fly over our house. The kids love to spot it and watch it soar across the sky until it disappears. It's easy to find out when it will be over your city.

Go to the NASA website and click on the Shuttle and Station button. Then go to the "See the Station in the Sky" link. This will take you to the "Sightings Page" where you can enter your country and your state, etc. It will tell you what time the space station will appear and from which direction. It will also tell you how long it will be visible (usually around 3 or 4 minutes) and in which direction it will exit your view.

You can do the same thing with Space Shuttle sightings when a shuttle mission is going on. It is a really great opportunity to teach the kids about space exploration. Give it a try this summer.

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