Family Field Trip: Stargazing

A family leaves the city lights in search for stars

by , posted on November 2nd, 2010 in The Science Issue

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. -Edwin Hubble


Introduce your kids to the universe by spending a night out under the stars. Watching the sunset and nighttime sky twinkle isn’t just a lesson in aesthetics, it’s a lesson in science. Plus, learning the universe goes on forever and that the possibilities are quite literally endless can be catalysts to inspire imagination.



Photographs by Dave K Cooper


In order to get a good view of the stars, we needed to escape the light pollution of the city. So we packed up our car with just a few essentials: A thermos filled with warm mulled cider, a blanket and a copy of H. A. Rey’s Find the Constellations and headed west.



Watching the sunset was a lesson about Earth’s rotation; fall colors sparked conversations about Earth tilting on its axis and bringing the change in seasons; and a flip through our book, showed us the constellations we might find.



Going…going…gone. The sun disappears below the horizon and we get ready for the show. Waiting for the stars provided the perfect opportunity to ask questions like: Did you know the Earth isn’t perfectly round?, What’s the difference between a planet and a star? and Where do the stars and planets go during the daytime?



A drop in temperature calls for a huddle under the blanket, which, doubles as a model for how the atmosphere keeps the earth warm. But best of all, it’s an opportunity for one more sip of warm cider and a snuggle with the kids.



Teaching your children about science doesn’t have to be daunting or complex. It can be as simple, and as beautiful, as sitting in a field, staring at the sky.


Helpful Links:
NASA’s Kids’ Club
Pocket Universe
Light pollution and its effect on the nighttime sky

StumbleUponFacebookTwitterShare it!


11 Responses to “Family Field Trip: Stargazing”

  1. Cheryl @ Mommypants Says:

    November 2nd, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Wow. Those pictures are STUNNING!


  2. Leslie Says:

    November 2nd, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I was just about to post the same thing. You guys are just beautiful!


    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    You are very, very kind. It was a beautiful sunset and the scenery was absolutely amazing.


  3. Kirsten Says:

    November 3rd, 2010 at 2:54 am

    you are a beautiful family in all the ways that really count. (and, beautiful in the shallow ways too. hee hee…)


  4. Jen Says:

    November 3rd, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Gorgeous – what more can I say! Looking forward to this experience when the little Brothers get a bit older


  5. Jen Says:

    November 3rd, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I think I’m going to have to get over myself and hire Mr. Dave. My in-house photog keeps making me look like a less attractive version of myself. HELP!


    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Dave does work some beautiful magic.


  6. Molly Says:

    November 5th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    There’s a great smart phone app called “Distant Suns” that lets you see what stars and planets are visible in the sky each night. It probably does even more than that, but it’s what we use it for. It’s really cool.


    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Thanks for the app suggestion Molly! Were the girls amazed at the amount of stars in the sky when you took your trip out west this summer? I want my kids to see the milky way. I don’t think we can get that type of sky on the east coast.


    Molly Reply:

    Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to see too many stars. Too much light pollution or clouds.

    When I was a kid, my family always made it a point to go outside at night during the Perseid Showers (every August, starting around the 9th or 10th and lasting a few days) to watch shooting stars. Did you know – they’ve been observed for 2000 years!


  7. claire Says:

    December 10th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    This is such a lovely post Jen


Leave a Reply