Science is above all else a way for humans to organize and explain nature. Watching the night sky has intrigued curious minds as far back as there is written history. Sometimes you just need to observe nature before you can begin to explain it. Taking time to observe a clear night sky will likely inspire many questions of inquiry that lead to new discoveries. Before long you might uncover some of nature's patterns and rules, and possibly find serendipitous anomalies that open paths to new knowledge.
Perhaps a budding scientist in your home is ready to make observations, ask questions, and discover patterns. Let them get started with the ancient past time of stargazing. To begin, just go outside on a clear night and look around for a long time. Consider keeping a notebook or sketch journal. Look for patterns. Describe how things change throughout the night. Imagine yourself as one of your ancient ancestors without the luxury of libraries or the internet. Try to make sense of what you are seeing. Make some predictions about what the night sky will look like tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. Write down these predictions so that you can test them later. You are on your way to formulating a hypothesis of the nature of the sky. You are DOING science!
Now that you have experienced some of the science we call astronomy, get more involved with these cool tools for finding constellations and other celestial objects.
Start here! Build your own star wheel that turns the three-dimensional dome of the night sky into a two-dimensional map.
Find the Big Dipper and the North Star! See how easy it is to practice “star hopping” by finding a well-known constellation and the navigation beacon of sailing adventurers.
Find more constellations! Watch this super cool 360° video and read the accompanying tutorial to become the neighborhood sky sleuth.
Bring stargazing into the 21st Century! Download one of these favorite stargazing apps and explore the sky like Pokemon Go! Field Research.
Turn your computer into a planetarium! Download Stellarium for free and see the sky like you’ve never seen it before.