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Bring Your Kids Back to Nature and the Cosmos
While September and October are great times to see fall colors, the clear nights of autumn also provide excellent opportunities to appreciate the night sky and to teach your kids about the constellations. Many campgrounds are often a perfect location for enjoying the night’s sky with stargazing activities on-site or nearby.
Campgrounds for Your Constellation Enjoyment
Lazy River at Granville in Granville, Ohio, regularly provides its guests with information about major astronomical events, such as meteor showers and lunar eclipses, as well as dates and times when the U.S. Space Station flies overhead.
The Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Nashville, Tenn., works closely with a nearby program called Skies over Nashville, which takes place at Sudekeum Plantarium. Skies Over Nashville is a live program in which a planetarium educator shows you how to locate and identify naked-eye seasonal constellations, bright stars, planets and other interesting celestial objects visible during your visit.
Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort in Borrego Springs, Calif., is hosting its annual Nightfall event Oct. 23 - 26, when it invites astronomers from across the country to bring their telescopes and spend the weekend educating children and families about the planets and constellations.“It’s one of our most popular events,” said Avery Downs, a spokeswoman for the resort. “We typically sell out months in advance.”
Some resorts even have their own astronomy clubs, such as Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, Ariz. “Arizona is an astronomers dream,” said Debby Mitchell, Voyager’s activities director. She said the club has weekly meetings and discussions of astronomy-related topics as well as monthly star parties on its tennis courts in January, February and March.
A Few Regions to Consider in the Fall
Bar Harbor, Maine, has the Acadia Night Sky Festival, which runs from Sept. 25 - 29 and includes a variety of special nighttime events, including hikes, boat cruises and workshops led by speakers familiar with the constellations.
Flagstaff, Ariz., has an annual Festival of Science that includes nighttime stargazing opportunities at Northern Arizona University, the U.S. Naval Observatory and at Lowell Observatory, whose achievements include the discovery of the planet Pluto and the fact the universe is expanding.
Cape Canaveral, Fla., is set to launch NASA’s Orion Spacecraft on Dec. 4, which will be an event that the kids will remember for a lifetime. The Orion is an ambitious space exploration project that will be years in the making, and this year spectators will be able to see the first phase take off.
Find Events and Campgrounds Around You
But you don’t have to travel across the country to learn about night sky. Numerous organizations, including universities, astronomical societies and observatories, have family friendly “star parties” that provide excellent opportunities for families to learn about the constellations.
Simply Google search “star party” the name of a city where you would like to camp and you’ll find dates, times and locations of family friendly star parties. You can then use GoCampingAmerica.com to find a campground to further enhance your night sky experience.