Tips from Taz: Winter Stargazing

Outdoor Program Specialist and Camp Director

Megan “Taz” Hardy, GSCM Outdoor Program Specialist

Winter is a great time to get outdoors and the winter night sky is a great time for stargazing. Take advantage of the longer nights and have some fun!

Let your imagination grow — turn out the lights, tune in your senses, and step out into the night!
Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Adjust to the dark: To see the faint stars and possible meteors, make sure you give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
  • Escape Light Pollution: Even if there is no moon, we will still have light pollution. Lights from houses, streets and especially all the building in Baltimore City can block what you see in the night sky. For the best experience, find a big open area, such as a park, field or suburban backyard. For an even better view, try reserving some time at one of GSCM’s four campgrounds. The fields at Camp Ilchester and Camp Conowingo, Chimney Trail are great locations!
  • Dress for the weather: It is January and it is cold outside. Dress in layers especially if you plan to be out for more than a few minutes. An hour of observing a winter meteor shower can chill you to the bone. Instead of standing, bring a blanket or lounge chair and make sure you have extra layers, a hat, gloves, and very warm coat. Maybe you can even bring hot chocolate to warm your belly too.
  • Prepare for stargazing: Not sure what to look for when you look up? Prepare before you head out.

Try some of these great badge activities’ while you are planning your evening:

For Girl Scout Daisies: Work on part of your Between Earth and Sky journey by taking a daytime or evening walk in nature to find colors. Before heading out, share your favorite color with everyone and then learn about new colors such as violet, sienna or magenta. Then, investigate if these colors make any of your new flower friends unique. While on your stroll, look for as many colors as you can find in nature. Once you are back, sit in a circle with your friends and ask questions to see if everyone saw the same things. How many different shades of green did you see? How many different colors did you see in the stars? Did any colors outside surprise you? How did being outside make you feel?

For Girl Scout Brownies: Work on part of your Senses badge. Try Step 2: listen to the world by listening for 10 different nighttime sounds. Head outside, close your eyes, and listen for 10 different sounds. Next, draw a picture of what you think the sounds might be or what you think you heard.

For Girl Scout Juniors: Work on part of your Drawing badge. Get some perspective! Draw an outdoor scene using techniques that show perspective with different sizes to show objects that are close and far away. Using your great observation skills, try recreating a daytime scene with shadows or a starry night scene filled with stars.

For Girl Scout Cadettes: Work on part of your Night Owl badge. Explore nature at night and take this chance to learn more about an astronomy topic that interests you. You might make a drawing of the Big Dipper or the North Star. You could try using a telescope or binoculars to get a better look at planets, galaxies and star clusters in the night sky.

For Girl Scout Seniors: Work on part of your Sky badge by focusing on the night sky. Looking up, identify 10 constellations and 8 noticeable stars (5 of which are magnitude 1 or brighter). Learn how to find the North Star from the Big Dipper, and then how to use the North Star to find north. For even more fun, learn how navigators have used the North Star throughout history.

Looking for more? You can also try some of these activities with your friends:

  • Enhance you song skills with “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” See if you can sing in a round together and make hand movements to go with the words.
  • Learn a new song. One of Mad Dog and Who?’s favorite songs to sing at Resident Camp is the meteorite song, “What Is a Shooting Star?”. Try watching the song’s YouTube video by They Might be Giants, to learn the song and sing it with your friends. If you need lyrics, you can find them online here.
  • Learn the poem “Star Light, Star Bright” and talk about wishes you would make on the stars or things you have wished for in the past
  • Try some creative writing by writing you own poem about the stars and what you see in the night sky. Try new formats such as a haiku or limerick.

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