If you’re anything like us, you adore seeing gorgeous astronomical events such as meteor showers and eclipses. So why not take your stargazing to the next level and make a whole star party out of the fun activity?
Considering the rising popularity in skywatching, it’s not shocking that Pinterest named stargazing parties as one of the top emerging summer trends of last month. Unlike other social media trends, this one can actually be quite family-friendly, safe, and enjoyable for all involved. If you’re getting starry-eyed just thinking about it, then here are some tips on how to throw the best star party for yourself and all your loved ones:
Pick the right place — and time — for a star party.
The key to great stargazing is picking a spot that offers as wide of a view of the sky as possible, according to skywatching columnist Joe Rao at Space.com. As you might expect, this involves avoiding areas with obstructions, like tall buildings, but another thing to watch out for is spaces with excessive outdoor lighting. If you happen to live in a more urban area, you may need to search for the nearest stargazing location by you. But if you live in a mostly rural area, you might be able to host a stargazing party right in your own backyard.
Do your research ahead of time about the best days to stargaze and skywatch. If you want to catch an especially spectacular sky show, keep a close eye on the Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2018, which lists all the can’t-miss astronomical events of the year. And of course, always check the weather before you head out — the last thing you’d want is for your star party to be ruined by cloudy weather or a nasty storm.
Get as cozy as possible under the stars.
If you’re skywatching in a grassy or dirty area, you’re probably planning on bringing a beach towel anyway. So why not up the ante with a star-themed beach towel? One fun option is a Constellation Sky Map Microfiber Towel (starts at $14.99, Amazon).
(Photo Credit: Amazon)
If you’re not a huge fan of sitting on the ground or simply want a more luxurious, cozy seat, you might also consider a Starry Sky Inflatable Lounger Air Sofa ($45.95, Amazon).
(Photo Credit: Amazon)
If you’re not a guide to the stars, bring one.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to hire a human expert star guide to lead your party to all the cool constellations (unless you want to, of course).
But there are plenty of star guide maps out there, such as the highly-rated Guide to the Stars ($19.95, Amazon). The user-friendly map will give you all the info you need to explain the star-light, star-bright world to your kiddos.
(Photo Credit: Amazon)
If your kids are feeling extra curious about the stars before you get there, you might want to treat them to a kid-friendly constellation book like Star Finder!: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Night Sky ($11.89, Amazon).
Gobble up some starry snacks.
Don’t just look at the stars — eat them up, too! (Edible ones, that is.) Lots of creative bloggers and influencers out there have a wide variety of star-themed recipes to enhance your experience. One of our favorites is this adorable galaxy cupcake recipe, courtesy of blogger Christina of Christina’s Cupcakes.
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Galaxy 🌌 cupcakes. This is still one of my favorite color palettes. Topped with @fancysprinkles “Intergalactic Barbie” mix and their gold stars ✨ || swipe left for a video on how to pipe the various colors | note: I normally don’t frost my cupcakes first and then pipe but here I did because I started with galaxy palette that wasn’t vibrant enough so I had to start over!
We don’t know about you, but we’d enjoy these even on nights where there wasn’t a single star in the sky!
If you’re using any special equipment, don’t forget to use your naked eye, too.
It’s understandable to get excited about bringing out a telescope with the family for the first time, such as the best-selling 70mm Refractor Telescope for Kids and Astronomy Beginners ($57.99). Or maybe you’re thrilled to see if some trusty binoculars like the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter ($64.95) quite literally open your eyes to constellations you’ve never seen before.
But as Rao notes in his column, it’s important to spend some time looking at the stars with just your eyes, especially at the beginning of the star party. He writes, “Naked-eye astronomy is also especially rewarding if you’re observing with children, who no doubt will pepper you with questions about the various stars and constellations.”
Who knows? You might even experience some childlike amazement — and wonder — yourself. Happy stargazing!