For the last few weeks, Tom has become a bit fixated on going and looking at the stars. I’m not sure where it came from, but every other day he has asked, “Can we go tonight Mummy and look at the stars please?” And unfortunately it’s either been cloudy or not practical so I’ve had to say, “Not tonight Tommy, sorry“. Last night however was different.
It started when he came out with this gem,
“I want to be a scientist like Daddy when I grow up and I want to work with him”
I filmed it and sent it to Bob who was obviously beaming and returned home from work with a surprise for Tom, a pair of safety goggles which Tom has barely taken off. Tom once again mentioned the stars. “Can we go and see the stars tonight Mummy please?” Wanting to keep the science enthusiasm up we gave each other a look (we have put in place a few ways we can do this before or when the time was right, e.g. it would be best on a Tuesday as his sister stays at my Mums, and we need clear skies etc). As an added bonus Tom started school this week and is just attending afternoons so he is at home in the mornings so we said, “Yes!”
We decided it would be nowhere near dark enough before his bedtime and that it would be too much to keep him up the extra few hours until it was dark enough so we hatched a plan to put him to bed as normal and wake him at about 9.30. We would wrap him up and get in the car to drive half a mile down the lane behind our house. It brings you out at a little parking bay past a couple of cottages to some fields so we knew it would give open, clear skies. There was also the added treat of a Super Moon last night which Tom was really impressed with (he didn’t believe it was the moon at all as he could see his shadow). We used Google Sky Map to show him where the different planets were and to show him how the different constellations joined up to make pictures. He asked lots of questions about comets and meteorites and he was even excited to hear an owl! After 20 minutes or so we got back in the car and came home for a milky hot chocolate and then to bed.
Tantrum level: 0/10
Worth it? More than I thought it was going to be
Worth knowing: Keep an eye out for meteor showers and events like Super moons and the passing of the International Space Station to keep things interesting. Consider picking up a cheap telescope (decent ones-perfect for children can be picked up for around £40 so make great Christmas presents) although they aren’t necessary. Also keep an eye out for places that are Dark Sky Discovery Sites although anywhere away from street lights, buildings and with fewer obstructions such as trees will work.
50 things achievement: 27. Go Star Gazing, and if you are able to 40. Go on a Nature Walk at Night
Cost: Free. Google Sky Map is a free app available in the Play Store.