Stargazing is a wondrous hobby that can get you and your child to spend quality time with each other while enjoying nature. And it’s budget friendly to boot. Here are some helpful stargazing tips on how to get started and why you and your child will benefit from it:
Encourages Wonder - Oftentimes, we have a tendency to take things for granted and we live in the here and now of cellphones, video games, the internet, and the fast pace of 21st century living. Stargazing takes you and your child into a more primal time, a time when the heavens were as great a mystery to ancient man as they are to modern day astronomers and astronauts. It will teach you and your child how to appreciate the finer things in life while bonding.
Interdisciplinary Educational Value – You can introduce your child to various fields through stargazing. Some stargazing educational tips to launch you and your child: Astronomy is the obvious starting point, by naming stars, constellations and planets (Venus is visible to the naked eye). Discussions can segue into the basics of physics, mathematics and chemistry (the whole of Jupiter and much of the rings of Saturn are made of various gases and dust particles) and trivia (did you know that for many stars, it took millions of years for their light to reach us?)Naming constellations can lead to ancient Greek and Roman mythology (Castor and Pollux of the Gemini Constellation accompanied Jason on his adventures aboard his ship, the Argo). Go Low Tech or High Tech – Lugging around a laptop may be worth it while stargazing. Using Google can get you accurate star maps. Visiting http://www.observatory.ph/ and http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/ will get you decent weather updates so you can avoid rainy or cloudy viewing days. Going to Your Sky will allow you to access your very own planetarium and a map of the night sky as it appears over Manila. For iPhone and iPod users, Starmap Pro and GoSkyWatch Planetarium are amazing tools to do some stargazing.
Spend as Much as You Want – You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to do stargazing. Stargazing is actually budget-friendly. The cheapest way to go is to print out a stargazing map from the internet or buy an almanac from a bookstore. However, if you wish to engage in some hardcore astronomy, you can get yourself a starter telescope (eBay and Amazon are good starting points).
Gets You and Your Child Outdoors – Unless you live outside the city, chances are you will have a smog-covered view of the sky from your backyard or rooftop. Stargazing is a pastime that will encourage you and your child to seek out good viewing spots. All you have to do is get beyond 50km of the city’s pollution to find an ideal viewing spot—the Philippines is full of them! It’s an even better excuse to go out of town as there are majestic skies available to people who are willing to hoof it to Puerto Galera, Bohol, Baguio, Coron, or even as nearby as even Tagaytay.