With back to school sales starting in St. Louis, you may be beginning to tighten you budget a bit on recreational activities. If you’re among the families looking to round out the summer with some fun, but free activities for the kids, star gazing might just be one way to enjoy some family togetherness without breaking the bank.
If you’ve never given much thought to the night sky other than the occasional glance at a low hanging moon, it may be because you’ve never really seen the planets and stars in all their glory through a high powered telescope. Or, perhaps, you’ve just never learned about constellations, comets and the like. However, it’s never too late to start, and while you’re at it, give your kids an opportunity to get excited about astronomy too.
A good place to start is the St. Louis County Library or St. Charles County Library. Use the libraries catalog systems to search the keyword astronomy or ask a librarian to help you find relevant books and videos. Armed with a bit of new knowledge, you can then head out to Broemmelsiek Park in Wentzville, where you can enjoy the use of the Astronomy Viewing Area.
This wonderful addition to St. Charles County features concrete viewing stations where you can set up your own telescopes, or on Friday nights, you can use complex telescopes provided by the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri. When you engage your children in studies of the stars, it opens the lines of communication about related subjects such as the first moon walk, the 30 year shuttle program that just came to a close, the Apollo 13 crisis, the debate over life on other planets, the resources scientists hoped to find on other planets and so much more. Younger children may simply enjoy engaging in make believe stories about traveling to the stars, or imagining their favorite characters, such as Buzz Lightyear, traveling through space.
Ask your kids if they can count the stars, or see who can locate a planet the fastest. Talk about the differences in suburban versus rural communities and the effect it has on viewing stars or enjoying nature in other ways. There are countless ways to get your kids interested in astronomy, and it’s a fun way to spend an evening together and wind down at the end of the day.
The Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri events are held every Friday night, weather permitting, beginning at sunset and lasting for two hours. For more information about The Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri or their classes for beginners, visit them online.
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