What to do on the shortest day of the year? Night starts in the afternoon so there’s plenty of time for this activity: longest night stargazing for kids. It’s something to anticipate all day long, but no worries because the day part seems so short.
When it’s dark enough, dress for the weather and go outside to check out the stars. The clear, cold nights seem to make them shine brighter. So often, something we do as a child can make a life-long impression and memory. Pat McCarthy, the director of the Giant Magellan Telescope says, “I remember as a kid with my small telescope – going out in December and looking at all the beautiful things in the winter sky….It’s a lot of fun and I hope other people do it as well. It’s a nice thing to do over the holidays.” (How To Stargaze on the Winter Solstice) While very few kids will have telescopes, it’s still exciting to see all the stars twinkling in the sky.
Back inside, a cup of hot chocolate warms up cold fingers and toes. There could be plenty time before bed to read a story about stars too. Astronaut Chris Hadfield tells about being a young child with a fear of the dark in his new book, The Darkest Dark. Although the story in the book happens in the summertime, being afraid to sleep or stay in their own beds happens for many children at any time in the year. In the book, Chris is impressed by the darkness of space and calls it the darkest dark. That night, instead of seeing scary things in the dark, he sees “the power and the mystery and the velvety black beauty of the dark” and wants to explore the night sky.
Spending part of the longest night stargazing for kids may help your child enjoy the dark instead of being afraid. Kids can also sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Don’t we all wonder about the stars?