Tips to Boost Kids Interest in Astronomy

One of the best ways to boost kids’ interest in astronomy is by allowing them to studying it firsthand.

Look for material about astronomy, space, space travel and other space-related matters. There is a lot of written material about astronomy in nonfiction books and in articles, both in print and online. Do not forget to seek out audio-visual materials like documentaries, television specials, online lectures and other informative online videos. Even science fiction books, movies and television shows include many facts about space.

Encourage star gazing. Start small by going outside your house and simply looking up at the night sky. Although you might not be able to see the entire sky thanks to light pollution, you still should be able to see part of the sky. When star gazing, it’s important to bring a flashlight covered with red translucent material so it will give off a red light and thus save your night vision. It is also a good idea to buy or borrow a telescope or at least a set of binoculars.

Star maps can help you find certain objects like the North Star, one of the planets or the Milky Way by simply orientating your location. Don’t forget that the position of stars and planets change constantly from hour to hour and from season to season due to the rotation and revolution of the Earth around the sun.

A good way to locate stars is to look for the various constellations. Although constellations aren’t real objects, many have interesting stories about them. Merely by looking at your night sky you can look at an object whose story goes back hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

See if your local astronomy club has any events going on. Often they have more powerful telescopes that might allow you to see deep-space objects or merely amplify objects beyond what you have been able to do before.

Check out your local observatory or planetarium to see if they have any special events or tours. Seeing how astronomers study the stars might bolster a kid’s interest in astronomy merely by seeing what cool toys (even if it’s a multimillion dollar telescope) are used. 

Go on a night drive out to a place free from building obstructions and light pollution. Take your telescope, binoculars, star maps and flashlights and see what you can see. Make it a family outing by taking blankets, chairs and snacks. Don’t forget the snacks, especially the hot chocolate or coffee. Take turns using the telescope to find different stars and objects. Make a game out of it by seeing who can find a set number of objects the fastest.