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! :)