Enjoy a Clear, Summer Night by Hosting a Star Gazing Party!
July 30, 2012
The kids are out of school, the summer is stretching out before you, and you’re starting to worry that everything the kids have learned over the school year is going to leak out of their heads as they rot their brains on video games, television, and comic books. You want to plan some educational activities to keep their brains engaged but know if the kids hear “educational” they’re going to think “boring”! Why not change their minds and engage their minds with a fun stargazer party? With the summer nights warming up, it’s a perfect time to introduce the kids to the wonder and beauty of the night sky and teach them a little bit about astronomy at the same time!
You don’t have to be an astronomer yourself to plan a stargazer party. With the wonder that is the Internet, you can find plenty of information on any celestial events that might be taking place when you’re planning your party, like an eclipse, meteor showers, or if any planets will be especially bright in your area. Check if there are any astronomy groups in your area and contact them to see if anyone might be willing to come to your party and share their knowledge and equipment for the evening. Hopefully some of your guests will have their own telescopes and binoculars they can bring to help with the star viewing. You can also check out CraigsList or FreeCycle for inexpensive equipment as well. But have no fear, even if you have no advanced equipment, you can still have a great stargazer party! Spend some time online searching for star charts that you can print out to help your guests locate and identify various constellations and planets that will be visible the night of your party.
If you live out in the country, away from the city lights, you can host your party in the backyard with no worries about light pollution impeding your view of the night sky. If that’s not an option, seek out another venue, such as a local park or even an observatory if you’re in a large city, where you can host your party. Since this is an outdoor party, you’ll need to keep an eye on the weather and be sure to have a rain date planned, just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate!
You won’t have to do much decorating for your stargazer party since this is not only an outdoor party, but one that takes place in the dark! But, if you want to add some extra ambiance, you can jazz up your outdoor space with a few decorations. Hang some silver star cutouts from the trees, or maybe some space odyssey danglers to go with your space theme. You’ll want to have a table set up to hold your star charts, some refreshments for the guests, and other essentials, so you can set the scene using a black table cloth sprinkled with silver star confetti. To add some extra illumination to your table, use a fun fiber optic centerpiece.
To ensure you’re guests are comfortable, you’ll want to have some essentials on hand, besides the star charts that will show them what their looking for as they study the night sky! You can ask guests to bring lawn chairs, but bring extras as well in case anyone forgets. You’ll also want to have some blankets for people to spread out on, or wrap up in if the evening is cold. Stock up on some mini metallic flashlights so your guests can read their star charts and see where they’re going once the sun sets. They’re also great if the kids want to have a game of flashlight tag before the serious star gazing starts! Having some glow sticks and glow necklaces to help the kids feel more comfortable in the dark is also a great idea.
This is a simple party you can throw together at the last minute if you find out that a once in a lifetime celestial event, like a passing comet or a huge meteor shower, is heading your way and the kids will have so much they probably won’t even realize they’re getting a mini science lesson at the same time!