Astronomy writer Dave Reneke from Australasian Science Magazine

Next to Dinosaurs kids lover space the best. Just ask any teacher. There are very few children that don’t love to talk about stars, planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. And the questions they ask put adults to shame.

It’s clearing skies across Australia and our attention turns skyward once more. What better way to enjoy it than to have a star party. Yep, get the kids out under the stars and show them our Aussie night skies. Explain to them that the light from most of the stars they see left there thousands, even millions of years ago, and it’s just arriving now!

“Kids have amazing memories and are fantastic at learning patterns and associating the names with them. Perfect for constellations,” said Dave Reneke, astronomy writer from Australasian Science Magazine. 

“When teaching children about stars astronomy book courses aren’t enough. Make your lessons as interactive as possible because everything in their world now is in animated form.”

Teaching children astronomy has received a boost with the internet and Smartphone technology. It wasn’t like that when most of us were kids. 

“Here are some apps I use that will help,” Dave said.

Designed for kids aged 4-8, ‘Star Walk Kids’ introduces youngest audiences to the wonders of our Universe. Selected objects are explained in short animated films voiced by professional actors. Now Google ‘Nasa Kids Club’ then try www.kidsastronomy.com.  

“Afterwards, check out an amazing website I’ve spent many hours on in the past, www.enchantedlearning.com. Teachers just love this one, and you will too,” Dave added.

For a broader choice of online and printable astronomical resources see the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Be sure to click on the ‘education’ section OK.

You can also be very clever about your first night sky adventure by choosing to go out when there are likely to be meteor showers. This is exciting and you can compete to see who can count the most.

Spotting planets is another fine game, and don’t forget, right now all five major planets are stretched out in a line in the Western sky at sunset. Another gobsmacker is wait until the space station is passing over. Go to www.spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings for times. It’s a guaranteed jaw dropper!

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