By Jo Winkle, Youth Services Manager, Richard Byrd Library
Summer is a great time to be outdoors. From the warm weather to the frequent clear skies, there is plenty of time for activities that keep kids moving and offer a multitude of opportunities to learn about nature and the environment. One such opportunity is stargazing.
According to stargazing website, Telescope Therapy, taking the time to observe the stars can greatly benefit both children and their families. In addition to inspiring an interest in the stars, planets and universe, stargazing can also help children strengthen practical skills like navigation, timekeeping and communication. It also encourages the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and allows children’s sense of creativity and wonder to flourish.
The summer months are one of the best times to introduce children to stargazing. Not only does summer mean a break from school and the ability to stay up later, it is also the time of year when many constellations are most visible in the northern hemisphere. Scorpius, Cygnus, Cassiopeia, the Coma Cluster, Sagittarius and the Summer Triangle are a few of the options visible to the naked eye during the summer months, according to an article from NASA’s Night Sky Network. The Perseids meteor shower also peaks around mid-August. Not to mention all that you can see with the help of a telescope.
With its many parks and natural spaces, Fairfax County is a great place to stargaze with the family. Observatory Park at Turner Farm hosts weekly viewing sessions led by the Analemma Society. Held on every clear Friday night, the sessions allow visitors to see celestial objects through several telescopes in the observatory room with help from volunteers. Experienced stargazers are also welcome to bring their own telescopes.
This summer, Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) is partnering with Turner Farm and the Analemma Society to offer two opportunities for families to stargaze together as a part of our Summer Reading Adventure. The events will feature a fun tour of the planets, stars, constellations, nebulas and galaxies that can be seen either with the eye or using telescopes. For more information about our stargazing sessions and to register your family, click here.