Star Watching Party

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The Perseid meteor shower is here!

If you’re not familiar with this annual event, here are a few key things to know: The Perseids are debris leftover from a comet, and once a year the Earth passes near their path. The best viewing time is between midnight and 4 a.m., which means kids might get a special stay-up-late treat to see them, or early birds can head out before dawn!

Thanks to some stellar space-themed ideas in Parents magazine, we set the stage for our night of meteor viewing with a few activities. First up, we needed to launch a rocket into space, using “rocket fuel” made from baking soda and vinegar of course.

Rocket Fuel Experiment (2)

Tape four pencils around an upside-down empty bottle, which will secure it upright on its “launch pad”. Next, flip the bottle over and add 2 to 3 teaspoons baking soda. Add 1 cup vinegar, then very quickly pop in a wine cork and flip the bottle.

Rocket Fuel Experiment (4)

Did yours soar into the sky? We were a bit slow getting the cork in, which meant the “launch” wasn’t spectacular, but all the bubbling jet fuel sure was!

Now we wanted just the right clothing for our night, with glow-in-the dark shirts made from glow fabric paint. I made a star, moon and spiral galaxy for Travis.

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Veronika had a decidedly more abstract splattering of stars on her shirt!

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The next component of our night was space-themed snacks: we cut slices of vegan cheese into stars with a cookie cutter, and apple wedges were “crescent moons”.

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Next up, we secured a sheet of red cellophane over flashlights with a rubber band, then headed out into the night. The red filter supposedly helps eyes adjust to the dark!

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Before long, though, it was time to turn off those flashlights and turn our eyes upward to the sky.

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In between watching for meteors, Travis and I checked out the other stars in the sky and came up with a few of our own constellations.

Finish all that starry fun with storytime of course. Check out Storytime from Space which features astronauts reading from – you guessed it – the International Space Station. Wow! The kids were enthralled with a read-through of Give Me Some Space by Philip Blunting.

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After all that, it turned out that probably headed out a little early (10 p.m.) and didn’t have great viewing. We intend to check out Jupiter on August 19, for our next star party!

A few things we didn’t get to this time, but that have stellar hits in the past: marshmallow constellations and tracking the moon.

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