The picture above shows how much fun kids are having at the Young Astronomers Meeting, the newest generation of the Amateur Observers' Society of NY. Linda Prince tells us, "Today we discussed the planets and which are visible now in the sky and why. Then, we made planets to be used for exploration missions at our next meeting. The children really let their imaginations go wild in constructing their planets!"
And they are not the only ones. In Maryland, Skip Bird of the Westminster Astronomical Society, Inc. also got a home school group to imagine planets around distant stars: "It was raining today so we explored strange new worlds, and I mean strange. We had everything from a giant Jupiter Cookie to a world with its own language and we even had a giant rice krispy planet that was about to crash into our planet. We had only 1 hour to figure out a way to deflect or destroy 63.792150359 gigatons of rice krispy treat before it destroyed our planet (since you're reading this we must have been successful)."
John Mannone of the Barnard Astronomical Society likes to inspire starwatchers, including his grandchildren,with poetry. From a recent star party at Orion Acres in Palmer, Tennessee, John writes, "And though we had to leave for our two-hour drive when the meteors were starting to ramp up, we were greeted with Orion just as Robert Frost had put it in his poem, 'The Star-Splitter' (1923):
You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands... "
Andy Oliver knows there is nothing like liquid nitrogen to capture people's attention. At their October Astronomy Day, the San Angelo Astronomy Association of Texas tells us that they, "teamed up with the Society of Physics students at Angelo State University. They had brought some liquid nitrogen, and were letting our visitors sample quick frozen marshmallows dipped in chocolate. I really enjoy seeing the look of dawning recognition on a child's face, as they get the idea of the magnitude of the Milky Way. The birdseed, football field analogy always seems to impress folks."
To find out what he is talking about and get inspired yourself, find your nearest astronomy club here. Get creative and join them for a public star party, lecture or astronomy event this fall!