Posts Tagged ‘stargazing’


Tuesday, June 19th, 2012


Stargazing is a wonderful evening activity for your entire family. Try to go outside the city to adjust your eyes to the dark. The further away from the city lights you are, the better. Before you leave home, look up and make sure there are no clouds.

Take a sleeping bag to open up on the ground. A sleeping bag is better than a blanket because it’s waterproof on the outside, so if the ground is wet, it won’t soak through. A sleeping bag is also softer on the inside than most blankets. You will also want a flashlight with red cellophane taped over it, to look at a star chart. It takes a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so turn off your headlights and don’t use any light except red light, which doesn’t affect your eyes.

Start by looking for the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper points to the North Star, and you can find all the other constellations from there. Orion is easy to pick out in the sky as well. Look for his belt first (the three lined-up stars), then his shoulders and legs. See how many constellations your kids can find.

You may want to borrow a telescope or some binoculars to see star clusters, nebulae, or planets. We have seen the moons on Jupiter and the rings on Saturn with our telescope. On nights with a full moon, we just focus on the craters of the moon, since the light of the moon makes it hard to see the stars, even if the night is clear.

Camping Under the Stars

Friday, July 16th, 2010


Here is my crazy experience camping under the stars with my family. My story includes sleeplessness, a helicopter, and a downpour. No wonder I hate camping!

Camping is a fun summer activity for most families. For some oddball reason, I don’t like sleeping on the ground. An air mattress does not resemble a real mattress. It just doesn’t. (Remember what happened to me in Paris, and you’ll understand why camping isn’t my favorite thing.) But last year when my husband wanted me to go camping with him and the boys for Cub Scout family camp, I decided to give it a try again. Since I love nature, and I love the idea of my boys having the adventure of being in a tent, I felt gung-ho about the whole thing.

When we arrived, the first order of business was to set up the tent. It was a big tent, so it took quite a while to set up. Then we blew up the air mattresses and unrolled the sleeping bags, and voila! …home away from home.camping-under-the-stars-2

That night I had trouble getting to sleep. First the boys were giggling and tossing and turning and swishing and whispering and shooshing. You get the point. My husband told them to knock it off, and they were quiet after that, aside from the occasional turn.

Tick, tick, tick. Time just passed, and I wasn’t falling asleep. I was finally beginning to doze off at 1am, when a loud helicopter flew above us and nearly scared me out of my wits. Every 10 or 15 minutes, it would circle back over, just to make sure that people drifting off would not be able to actually get to sleep. (Later my sister told me they were probably looking for a fugitive, and that a helicopter is always bad news, especially in the middle of the night. I told her I was glad I hadn’t thought of that.)

camping-under-the-stars-3The next night when it was time to go to bed, we had gone stargazing, and the boys had pointed out lots of constellations. My husband took the top off our tent, and we went to sleep under the stars. The boys were snoring within about 10 minutes of hitting the sack. My husband and I made love under the stars. I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad. It’s romantic and fun, and I’ve never fallen asleep under the stars before.” No helicopters disturbed my sleep.

Water suddenly splashed my face at dawn, and I realized there was a huge downpour of rain coming straight into our tent! In the few seconds it took me to wake up my husband, I noticed the puddles on top of the sleeping bags of my 3 sleeping boys. My husband and I grabbed the tarp and flung it up onto the tent, getting completely drenched in the process. I looked like a drowned rat. “Good morning. We might as well get up. Can anyone find any dry clothes? It doesn’t matter if they’re dirty at this point. Dry is the only thing that matters,” I instructed my boys. They eventually got dressed. In the process of going to the camp bathroom and back, we tracked mud all over the inside of the tent. (We let it dry during the day and later swept it out.)

I shook the puddles off the sleeping bags. Oddly, the rain stopped the minute we put the tarp back on. Looking around the camp, the ground was dry everywhere except for where our tent was. It was as if God had dumped a bucket of water right on us because it gave Him pleasure to do so.