A Kid's View of the Cosmos
Michael Meteney of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh showing off the splendor of Jupiter to a young visitor. (Photo Credit: Al Paslow)

Some of the most excitable observers around can barely reach the eyepiece. Most kids are not afraid to ask questions or let you know what they think, and when they look through the telescope it can be quite an adventure. Introducing young people to the skies can be one of the most rewarding parts of public star parties. Here are some of the recent kid encounters that some dedicated Night Sky Network Clubs told us about.

In northwest Washington, Sarah E. Thompson of the Whatcom Association of Celestial Observers reported that, "One student asked me what that "white sort of cloud thing" was that he could see up there in the sky. Isn't it wonderful to be the person to point out our galaxy to someone for the first time?"

At the Warren Rupp Observatory, the Night Sky Network Toolkits make observing fun for everyone. Tammy J. Plotner says, "The props really do a fantastic job in giving the young folks tactile reference and I really like chatting with them after a program to understand which ones help them learn the most or what they thought was the most fun. It is very pleasing to have them tell you they learned from the presentation and that it 'isn't boring... like school!'"

Craig M. Lang of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh confronted one of the age-old astronomical questions with honesty. "Most of the children in attendance had questions during the presentation, except one. He approached me after the presentation and asked if it made him a 'nerd' to be interested in astronomy. I did my best to convince him that 'nerds' make the world a much better place and there is nothing wrong with that."

Find out how to inspire your kids with the biggest present you can give them. Start your exploration of the Universe here by contacting one of your local Night Sky Network astronomy clubs.