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Stargazing From Home With Kids: Beginner’s Guide

By Evan Dunn 
 
There’s no time like the present to introduce your child to the fun of gazing up at the stars. It’s a great family activity and it doesn’t take a lot of effort, expertise, or money to accomplish. You can ignite in your child a lifelong love of astronomy and science and give them a new way of looking at the universe and our place in it. Who knows, your child may become a future International Space Station astronaut!
 
Why stargaze?
 

Meteors, a Great Conjunction and the Winter Solstice

December is packed with exciting astronomical events—most of which you can see from your back yard! 
 
The Geminid Meteor Shower
 
The Geminid meteor shower occurs every December and, this year, it’s expected to peak the night of Sunday, December 13, through the early morning of Monday, December 14. The Geminid meteor shower puts on a consistently good show, with up to 150 fast-moving meteors per hour visible in a dark sky—and you might even catch a few meteors on the nights leading up to it!
 

The annual Leonid meteor shower is coming up!

The Leonid meteor shower will light up the night sky this month and put on a socially distant spectacle for everyone to enjoy. The meteors will peak after midnight into the early hours of Tuesday, November 17, right before dawn. This year, the Lyrid meteor shower will be just a couple of days after the new moon, giving you plenty of chances to see these celestial streakers with no lunar interference. 
 

Comet NEOWISE in our Skies!

Comet NEOWISE Rising over the Adriatic Sea. Image Credit & Copyright: Paolo Girotti

By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

There is a naked eye comet in our evening sky right now, Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE). Comets are small, mostly icy objects that orbit the Sun in highly eccentric orbits. When they near the Sun, they sublimate, meaning some of their ice is heated into vapor, causing the tails that distinguish comets in our minds.

Best Show of the Year

Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

The bright Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year!

This is a complicated year for watching the Perseid meteor shower, because the evening sky has a roughly close-to-full Moon in it, making it more difficult to catch the faint “shooting stars.” So if you can wait until the Moon sets, you should have better viewing in the pre-dawn darkness. Spectators can expect to see around 10-15 meteors per hour or maybe slightly more on the peak on Monday and Tuesday, August 12-13, according to NASA.

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