Adventure Challenge: Week 4! Go Stargazing

This week’s adventure for our adventure-a-week challenge has been one of my favorites so far: stargazing! For one thing, since it wasn’t a weekday adventure, our whole family was able to do this one together. For another thing – I just love stargazing! Generally the night skies are most interesting in the earliest months of the year, and with these warm days right now, it makes for some pretty optimal gazing-at-stars-time. So gather some blankets and my illustrated printable and get ready to go stargazing!

We chose the particular night we did for star gazing because it was peak time for a meteor shower. Of course, that is not necessary for stargazing, but it can certainly add interest. There are a few things to take into account in preparation for a stargazing adventure, with regards to the place and time. You need to choose a place that will have limited light pollution, away from city lights, and with an unobstructed view of the sky. You need a time when the skies will be clear and not overcast, preferably not at a full moon as it will compete with the brightness of the stars, and you might want to consult a calendar of meteor showers. And here are a few things you might want to take with you…

1 – Blankets. Enough to spread out for everyone so can lay back and have a good view of the sky!

2 – My constellation printable. This can make a fun activity to let the kids do, to find some of the constellations. Or, ok, let’s be honest – I like finding them, too! These constellations are seen in the winter/early spring sky.

3 – Flashlight and pen. To see and to check off the constellation list. :)

4 – Snacks! If you’re somewhere where you can have a camp fire, s’mores can be a nice touch to your night outing. So classic, so delicious. :) If you’re like me, though, sometimes its difficult to get a chuck of chocolate to actually melt in your s’mores. So here’s a simple and delicious remedy for that – use Nutella instead! :) If you make a fire, though, you’ll want to douse the fire while you’re actually stargazing so the light won’t interfere with your view.

5 – Something hot to drink. Especially if you go stargazing during the colder months. Hot cocoa, hot tea, hot coffee … something to keep you warm and cozy!

Top s’more – regular Hershey’s bar. Bottom s’more – made with Nutella. Both delicious!

A couple other ideas … if it’s in the months where bugs are a problem, bug spray might be a good idea. And if you have a DSLR camera, shooting stars can be a fun project. I had a fun time taking night sky photographs on our adventure, like this one:

I am just a beginner at star photography, but here is what I have learned so far:

- Set your camera to BULB, which will allow the shutter to stay open as long as you hold down the shutter release. The longer you leave the shutter open, the more stars’ light will be captured.

- You NEED a tripod. I don’t generally use a tripod for my typical photography – if I really need to steady my camera I hold it against something stable, like a table. But to take pictures of the stars you have to have the shutter open so long that even the tiniest shift will mess up the picture. I set my camera on the flat railing of our porch, facing up toward the sky, but even so pretty much all of the pictures are at least somewhat blurry. A tripod would have been a much better route.

- Light pollution make a big difference, especially if you are including anything else in your photos, such as tree tops. The darker area you can be in, the better.

- Star trails are something I would like to capture in a future photograph. If you point your camera at the north star, which doesn’t “move” much in the night sky, the stars will appear to circle around it in your photo, as the earth spins. For this, though, you will have to have the shutter open for much longer, obviously, and considering my photos very often blurry after only a minute or two being open since I didn’t have a tripod, I knew there was no point to trying close to an hour. So, again, a tripod is needed.

- Experiment! Play around with your settings, different exposure times, and so forth. It’s the best way to learn and stumble across taking some great photographs. :)

We had a wonderful time laying under the beautiful night sky, and we couldn’t help but be amazed by its glories and what it spoke of the Creator.

We talked, we found constellations, ate s’mores, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Little one especially liked finding the constellations.

I spotted a couple meteors, but not many. Apparently there’s going to be a more major meteor shower on April 21st, so maybe we’ll have to go stargazing again. :)

Here is the printable I made – I hope you’ll enjoy it! These are constellations from the winter/early spring sky, along with some facts about each one. This is not a map of the sky, though; in other words, I didn’t draw the constellations in relation to each other, so their relative position/size on the sheet isn’t relevant … you’ll have to do some hunting in the night sky to find them. :) Just click the image below to go to get the PDF printable file:

Enjoy! :) (Psst … if you’re new here, you can check out our previous adventure-a-week challenge posts. And if you want to keep in touch for future adventures + more, just enter you email address near the top of the sidebar to get a handy email when I put up a new post! :)

Do you like to go stargazing?
I absolutely love getting comments, so leave your thoughts below! :)

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22 Comments

  1. Leah Hall
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    What a great idea! I LOVE star-gazing. And I enjoy reading your posts so much, April. God is such a creative, wonderful artist!

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Sooo true, Leah! It never ceases to amaze me when we look at how many stars there are in the sky (and try to fathom how many are beyond what we can see) and then think about the ocean – the incredible variety of animals, many we haven’t yet – and then think about colors and how bland the world would be without them … and yes – I love how you put it … God IS such a creative and wonderful artist!

      Thanks Leah for stopping by – and your kind words too – I appreciate it! :D

  2. Posted March 23, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    LOVE stargazing. We have a nice view of Orion and Cassiopeia from our parking lot, so whenever it’s a clear night I make my husband stop walking and look up at the sky. I’d like to go “for real” sometime soon!

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Ooh, yes! Sometimes you just have to stop and look up! :) Such beauty that so often gets forgotten. It’s definitely fun to go stargazing “for real”, but even just enjoying the stars when you get out of the car is lovely. :) Thanks, Paige! :)

  3. Tish
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    While I would prefer to live in a big city, I would definitely miss the stargazing at night! We spend a lot of time outside at night when the weather permits simply looking at the stars, listening to the frogs, and running around the yard. :)

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that is definitely one thing nice about not living in the city … you can go star gazing in your own backyard! :) Thanks Tish :)

  4. Posted March 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Looks like so much fun! And if I could reach through the computer screen to eat that S’more I would… mmm. Can’t wait to do some stargazing of my own this summer during some camping trips we have planned. Beautiful work, as always!

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Katrina! I am forever grateful to whoever the person was who first invented s’mores, haha! :D

  5. Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    We love to gaze at the heavens! God’s handiwork is the most beautiful and fascinating artwork that we could study + treasure. Thanks for the photography tips, that is my next big interest ~ star photography. Keep up the awesome inspiring blog posts! :)

    • Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      You are so right! It is simply amazing. :)

      And yeah, star photography is really neat – I was amazed at how many more stars I could capture on my camera than I could see with my eye – sweet! :)

  6. Posted March 24, 2012 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    I’d love to take pictures of stars and sometimes seen clear nights full of stars but dunno how. I have a Canon sx30 is camera. What settings should I use to capture star gazing shots like yours ? I don’t know what bulb is or even think there’s a bulb feature. Sorry I’m kinda noob with these manual settings.

    • Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Hello! Thanks for dropping by my blog! :) Hm, I’m not familiar with that camera, but I just looked it up … it doesn’t seem to be a DSLR, is that correct? It’s more of a point and shoot? I doubt then that it has the exposure settings that a DSLR would, where you could set it to the bulb setting. I’m not sure if/how you would do it with that kind of camera, then … there may be a way, but I don’t know. Let me know, though, if I’m mistaken – if it is a DSLR I’ll be able to help you out. :) Thanks again for your comment! :)

  7. Rebecca
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the ideas and for the Star Gazing Printable. After trying to show my kids some of the basic constellations just the other night I was thinking I needed something just like this. Love it! Do you think maybe stargazing will be something you will do a few other times during the year perhaps with a few other printables? :)

    • Posted March 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Rebecca! Yeah, I’ve thought about that – depending on how much interest people seem to have in it, I may end up making some more stargazing printables of constellations from different times of the year … kind of depends on whether it seems like many people would want it or not. Glad to know you would! Thanks :)

  8. Missy
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Love this printable! We went camping over the weekend, and Annie was thoroughly impressed with how many stars she could see being out of town. We’ll have to do this soon!

    • Posted March 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Ah, camping, nice! :) Yeah, that is one of the great things about camping – being away from the lights and seeing the stars. Thanks Missy! :)

  9. Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I want you to be MY Mom, April! heehee though I’m certain I am more like your Mom’s age : ) Great post! Thank you for sharing.

    Patti

  10. Posted July 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Another really good tip for stargazing is to cover whatever lights/flashlights you will be using with red film like cellophane. Red is far less damaging to night vision. Every time you turn your uncovered light back on you are undoing all the adjusting your eyes have been working on and it can take half an hour for your eyes to get really well adjusted to the dark. If your light is covered in red you can still see your paper easily and not have to worry about readjusting.

  11. Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    What a great post! I think it’s great to encourage stargazing as a family– keep it up!

  12. Bobbie Jo
    Posted June 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Love your post. I’ve been in love with the night sky since I was a little girl. I’m now a mom and a girl scout leader. Thank you for the free print out, I was searching pinterest and found you. I’m taking the scouts on a camping trip and for most of them its their first time ever going camping. Your stargazing print out is perfect for them.

  13. Posted June 18, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I LOVE stargazing! Here’s a picture I wanted to share – http://aliciabrucephoto.blogspot.com/2011/12/star-trails-how-to.html They are startrails taken at Christmastime.

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