28 November, 2019

Inspiring Future Stargazers: Best Ways to Get Them Outside

No matter your age, outdoor activities are good for mind and body alike. But getting there is often a problem, more to do with issues of willpower than mobility. Even thinking about the effort the outdoors can demand puts many people off before they’ve even stepped out the door. However, the fact that some continue to admire the wonders of the natural world, such as the night sky, is promising.

So how do you convince someone interested in stargazing but reluctant to go outside to do just that? The answer lies in inspiring them little by little while also making them gradually more comfortable being outdoors. Plenty of real and digital solutions exist to choose from.

Spiral Galaxy NGC 2683” (CC BY 2.0) by NASA Hubble

Planetariums

The modern world is full of planetariums and observatories that are open to the public, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a stargazer’s paradise near you. Even if the closest is a while away, the experience could be turned into a pretty cool road trip. Their exhibits and technology are the absolute best way to make anyone fall in love with our galaxy and the mysteries beyond.

The Hayden Planetarium in New York is a prime example, and a browse through amnh.org will tell you exactly why. Established by Neil deGrasse Tyson within the American Museum of Natural History, its services range from scientific blog posts to special events, like the Dark Universe show currently on until January 17, 2020. The thought and passion put into every exhibit are infectious and more than likely to push budding astronomers into pursuing that dream.

Fun & Games

Together with the amazing experience of a planetarium, why not nurture that interest through smaller activities? Entertainment with a science fiction theme is a good place to start, and mobile gaming is perhaps the most popular place to find it. Play’n GO’s Reactoonz slot at KittyBingo.com has cute aliens and features to match in honour of the 17 thousand recorded stars of Earth’s nearby cosmos, like the Epsilon Indi A, which are capable of supporting life. More exciting video games include Galaxy on Fire 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Accompany those with a Star Wars movie marathon to really get the galactic juices flowing. Returning to reality, you could take all this inspiration to the back yard or a local park.

Make a bonfire or stargazing picnic out of it. Read up on constellation and astronomy news. Throw some Area 51 conspiracy theories in the mix. Invest in a decent telescope and turn your smartphone into a super assistant with AR-enabled stargazing apps and themed games. Through its dedicated app, NASA’s articles and mesmerizing images will keep you up to date on discoveries. If that’s not enough, augmented reality makes the Star Chart app both a handy map of constellations and a telescope. It can show you the night sky from different places around the world. Oh, it can time travel too!

Bunch all these activities together and, before they know it, the most stubborn housecats will find themselves outside enjoying the stars, laughs and plenty of marshmallows.

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