Astronomy for Families

Astronomy is a wonderful hobby or interest for the entire family and we hope Seeing in the Dark has encouraged you and your family to do some stargazing.  This website is designed to help.  Its features include:

  • Your Sky Tonight includes printable star charts to help orient you in the sky
  • How-to Videos  on how to get the most out of stargazing
  • Observation Guides for some beginner sky activities
  • Links to help you find an amateur astronomy club near you; many have public observing nights when you can look through a variety of telescopes

Families can enjoy astronomy at various levels of involvement—starting with getting to know the constellations and going all the way to participating in telescope observing projects with the professionals—as some of the people in the show are doing.

Start where it's convenient—the back yard or someplace else close to home may suffice, if you can find a spot free from the glare of nearby lights—and get the kids involved at every step. Educational research has clearly shown that kids whose families do science activities together do better at science in school. 

The National Science Foundation has sponsored a national program called Family ASTRO that offers activities and games to help families do astronomy together.  The program is operated by the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Here are a few astronomy activities on the Web that families have enjoyed over the years.  To get your family in an astronomy mood, you can start by encouraging a dinner-table discussion of how many astronomy names everyone can come up with from popular culture (household products, cars, food, movies, songs, and TV shows).  Kids have no trouble coming up with Saturn cars, Comet cleanser, Star Trek, Milky Way candy bars, Eclipse gum, and many others.  Then pack a star chart you printed out, a pair of binoculars if you have them, some warm clothing, and go find the Big Dipper or Orion to get started.  We wish you clear skies and lots of family fun.

Family Activities From This and Other Web Sites

Constellations and the Night Sky

The Sun, the Moon, and the Planets

Special Note: Many of our activities For Teachers can be adapted for family use.

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