One of the benefits of living where we do is our access to the night’s sky. Breathtaking views of the stars await us anytime we walk out the door. We haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity as often as I would like to. Sunday’s super moon lunar eclipse was the perfect excuse to sit on a blanket with my children, watch a celestial show, and experience the wonder that stargazing creates.
My husband, being a teacher, started our stargazing at the dining table with a discussion about how what was going to happen hadn’t been seen for a long time. He taught us about what a super moon was – an event when the moon’s orbit and the earth’s orbit are the closest together. This super moon was also a blood moon because the shadow of the earth created a red glow on the moon’s surface during the eclipse. These events aren’t forecasted to occur again for a few decades – which thought, by itself, is a bit humbling. My children will most likely have children before another of these events coincide again.
After the impromptu astronomy lesson, and a quick change into pajamas, we headed out to our front lawn and our view of the eastern sky. Spreading out the blankets, and wrapping up in them as well, we gathered to watch the night’s sky. We had a thin blanket of clouds in our eastern sky, right where the eclipse was happening. But, the rest of the sky was clear.
What a better way to feed the curiosity about the universe, than to experience the night sky together. Not only were we privileged to see the moon move into the total eclipse phase – which was amazing and spectacular – but we were able to see shooting stars, and the Milky Way. With the moon rising and eclipsing in the east, the meteors and Milky Way displayed overhead – we were treated to an amazing night for stargazing. Getting out and letting our children experience this beauty sparked many questions and quiet conversations about constellations, satellites, the earth’s position in the galaxy, and what we were actually looking at. An entire astronomy class occurred on my front lawn because we took the time to be part of an amazing event.
As my husband would ask, so what’s the point?
There are opportunities to teach our children about the amazing universe around us all the time. It doesn’t have to be a once in a lifetime celestial event that may inspire new fascinations in our children. It can be an event as simple as watching a chicken hatch that will fuel a thirst for knowledge in our children, which will empower them as they move forward throughout their lives.
The point of education is to teach us how to learn, and to inspire us to want to learn more. Taking the time to share moments of wonder and awe together as a family opens up the door for inspiration and desire in our children. So much of formal education is focused on tests, benchmarks, and “progress” that the actual desire for knowledge is often forgotten – or at very least neglected.
There is knowledge all around us, waiting for us to notice it and be curious enough to want to understand it. Our job as parents is to allow moments where this desire can bloom, then offer ways for our children to feed their curiosity. Then they will learn and become educated.
The beauty, to which we were treated, while amazing to behold, was also humbling beyond measure. Looking at the vastness of the universe, and seeing the many amazing miracles there, reminded me of how truly small we are on our little planet at the edge of the galaxy. Looking toward the center of the Milky Way, and seeing how many stars and creations there were was glorious. It was so perfect. Everything spinning, moving – almost dancing – in the orbits they occupy – all these celestial bodies, synchronized and precise, in majestic, cosmic proportions.
And, I got to share all this with my children. Laying on the blankets together, looking up into the sky, watching for satellites, meteors, the Milky Way, and the lunar eclipse, was something I will remember the rest of my life. Watching my children gasp in wonder at the meteors, was a fantastic moment.
What are ways you feed your children’s curiosities? How have you encouraged them to become interested in the world around them?