1. Read chapter three in Discover Nature in Winter. Winter star gazing is something that our family has always wanted to do but we have never taken the initiative to get out and do so. Now we have the perfect excuse. Read the chapter with a view to picking some winter stars to learn about and observe as a family. Start with the North Star or Orion’s belt if you are not sure what you are doing yet.
Page 37 give this advice, “Unlike owls and other nocturnal creatures, our eyes are not well designed for seeing in the dark. After leaving a lighted building at night, it takes about thirty minutes for our eyes to become adjusted to the lower light levels.” Allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust and to take in the night sky.
2. Our family decided to make sure we can find these four constellations in the winter sky:
Big Dipper (North Star as well) page 44
Ursa Major page 45
Cassiopeia page 47
Orion (using Orion’s belt) page 49
We do not have a telescope but we use our eyes and sometimes our binoculars to view the night sky. We also plan to bundle up to keep warm and then go inside afterward for some hot cocoa or apple cider.
3. If you can’t fit in some night time star gazing, how about some sunset observations? You could also look for the moon as well as stars and write about it in your nature journal. Being able to name a star or constellation is a great skill but it can be just as satisfying to spend some time contemplating the universe while gazing at the stars.
For those families that do not have the book to work from, please join us by going outside at night and observing the winter sky. Try to pick a cloudless night where you can observe plenty of stars. Observing the moon in the winter is a great nature study experience as well. Keep it simple and give it a try.
Winter Sky Link:
Find the Winter Constellations