Nighttime Sky Gazing Fun

Put away your screens, turn off the television, and instead, try this for summer nighttime fun. Grab some sleeping bags or blankets, pillows, and snacks, and head outside to your yard or nearby open space. Lie back, face the sky, and watch nature’s fireworks. (Add some soft music to further set a relaxing vibe.)

A clear night sky reveals an ever-changing display of shooting stars, constellations, planets, the moon, and sometimes meteor showers. You can watch the show without any special equipment, but a sky map can enhance the experience, as can a pair of binoculars or a telescope. You can also use astronomy apps as a guide. Here are some of our favorites: Google Sky (lets you explore through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope), International Space Station (where the in-space laboratory is currently located above the world at any given time), Sky Guide (lets you hold your phone to the sky to identify planets, constellations, stars and satellites – super cool), and NASA (check out a photo library with thousands of images constantly being updated and watch live NASA TV).

For a guide to upcoming meteor showers, check out the American Meteor Society’s website for a calendar of scheduled celestial events such as: See up to 20 shooting stars per hour during the Delta Aquarids meteor shower which peaks after midnight July 29 and runs through August 23. The Alpha Carpricornids meteor shower runs through August 15, producing about five shooting stars per hour, and a few bright fireballs. The Perseid meteor shower runs through August 24, producing about 60 shooting stars per hour during its August 12 – 13 peak. And this month, the Milky Way is visible after midnight. The best viewing dates are July 13 – 20.

How many lucky stars will you wish upon? Happy gazing!

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