The Sky, Stars, the Universe, and Kids
If you, like me, have a child or several you know that they are open to the universe (in all possible meaning of this word). To the things we already forgot about. One of such mostly forgotten things is the sky. And stars. And planets.
We all know about Sun, planets and so on. But very few of us can find and name stars like Aldebaran or Sirius (no, I did not mistype “Siri” here).
Actually, how often did you moved your head up and watched to stars? Same was for me.
Ones we discussed stars with my son (he was reading a book about them). We agreed to go outside and check the sky next weekend. Easy to say, but I had to guide him – show him stars and constellations. So, we should explore the Universe together.
Actually, you also have to be able to do this. Why?
For instance, to build a reputation, to show that all this is not just letters in a book but the reality, to fire his/her interest to the topic.
The solution I found was a mobile application “Sky Map” from Google. Reading developer name you can guess the price. Right, Sky Map costs 0.
Sky Map in Action
I installed Sky Map to my android phone (read more about how to use your phone smart way). When the day came we went outside. My son pointed to a bright dot in the sky and asked: “what is this”. I moved my phone there and read the name on the screen (well, few I just knew myself).
Some “dots” were stars, some were planets. Some names he read or heard about, some names were new for me.
That was a great family game (or “explore”)!
Sky map worked great. Actually, I did not expect that it would be able to detect phone location and orientation that great. But it did.
Then came other questions: “where is X?”. In Sky Map one can search an object (Google cannot publish an application without search, right?). The application shows you where you should point your phone (I mean where you should point it physically). Another great game.
Explore Is Ongoing
Since that weekend we often check what stars we do see right now. And, the great thing is – in most cases, the question came from my son.
Recently we explored 2 “stars” near with the Moon. Sky Maps showed 3 objects (on the screenshot): Mars, Venus, and Neptune. But we saw only 2 “stars”. Actually, we saw 0 stars, since both objects were planets.
We discussed and agreed that what saw where Mars and Venus. Neptune was far away from the Sun and is rather small, so it could not be that bright.
And we literally saw that Mars is a red planet. I already forgot that one can easily see this without a telescope.
If you have children or you want to learn (refresh) what is over your head – install Sky Map and go outside.
Then come back here and share your experience in a comment.