When I was a child, stargazing was of little interest to me. I don’t recall any lessons at school that sparked my interest, although I did find it fascinating that a friend had perfectly accurate constellations on her bedroom ceiling. This was courtesy of her incredibly clever dad and some fluorescent stickers.
Stargazing in the forest
Fast forward to today, and my four year old daughter is already fascinated by stargazing. Even my two year old always looks out for the stars and the moon when it gets dark. For my girls, this has a lot to do with Tim Peake’s trip into space last year. It seems that both the media and schools have built on this and Libby probably knows more about the stars than I do even now.
This year, the Forestry Commission are encouraging children to get outdoors after dark to do some stargazing in the forest. They’re opening up the forests after dark, and they’ve produced a guide to the top stargazing forests. Many of these have special events going on, but the Forestry Commission hope that people will head to all their forests to see the stars.
A beginner’s guide to stargazing
If you like the idea of getting out into the forest to see the stars but can’t make it to an organised event, the beginner’s guide to stargazing is perfect. All you need to do is sign up to the website and they’ll send the guide to your inbox. It contains stargazing tips, night sky facts, a winter star map and even some games and activities.
My husband knows a little more than me about the stars, so he has already shown the girls some constellations. But even if you’re a complete novice like me, you can download star charts to tell you where the constellations are.
For me, the best part of this is that stargazing takes you outdoors and makes nature exciting. We’re incredibly lucky to be able to step out of our door and see the stars as we back onto a nature reserve. But we’ll also be heading to our favourite local forest, the Forest of Dean to get an even better view of the stars.
The thing about the forest is that there’s little to no light pollution. It may seem like an odd place to stargaze due to the trees, but all forests have clearings and they’re the perfect place to go. So grab a telescope, wrap up warm and get out there to explore nature and see the stars. Libby’s wearing her Muddy Puddles waterproof which is perfect for keeping the mud off during forest schools as well as stargazing. It’s always best to head into the forest just before it gets dark and make sure you know the way out.