It was on a camping trip with my family that I first noticed the beauty, brightness and enormity of the night sky. I felt small. Yet, at the same time, I felt a part of a massive universe of unexplored opportunities. Stars have been inspiring the human heart since the beginning of time. Take the time to enjoy with your kids the magic and wonder of the night sky.
Here are five things to teach your kids about the stars.
1. How to find the North Star
The North Star is an anchor in a moving starscape. Navigators have used the North Star for millennia to find their way back home. Tell your children they can always come home. Away from home, the world may be full of turmoil. But in your family there will always be a place of love and support. You will be their anchor.
2. The stories of the constellations
When you tell the stories of the constellations, you are sharing the wisdom of the ages. Your kids may not want a lecture from you on kindness, but may get the message from the story of Ares, the magical ram whose sacrifice for two children caused the Gods to immortalize him in the stars. Child-friendly versions of the Greek constellation myths can be found on the Internet. Printable sky maps to help you find them can be found at KidsAstronomy.com.
Brush up on other cultural traditions about the night sky. In Native American tradition, a son of the morning star brought healing to the world.
3. Starlight takes time
The closest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri. At 4.2 light years away, its light takes a little over four years to reach earth. The farthest star that can be seen with the naked eye is Deneb. Though the distance is not precisely known, its light takes around 3,000 light years to shine in the night sky. Teach your children that the universe has great things in store for them, but there are some for which you have to wait. The good consequences of the actions we take now are not always immediately seen.
4. The darker it is, the more stars you see
To see the best stars, you have to get away from the light pollution of cities. They're there, even though you can't always see them. Teach your children that sometimes it takes dark times in life to show us the true light. When things are tough, the stars in your life will be there to share their light.
5. The enormity of the universe
It's impossible to wrap our minds around the scope of the universe. Scientists keep pushing the edge of known space. Sometimes we get caught up in the little details of life, and circumstances may seem impossible to overcome. Remind your kids that the universe is full of unexplored territory and unlikely surprises. Life, like the universe, is full of endless possibilities.