Who remembers watching Halley’s Comet when they were a kid? I remember I was 6 at the time and I remember we all gathered on a sports oval to watch it. Since then I’ve always enjoyed astronomy and I wan’t to create similar memories with my own kids. That’s why I’m super excited by this weekend’s Orionid Meteor shower.
Provided the sky is clear everyone in Australia should be able to view it, the new moon means the stars and comets will be way easier to see with the naked eye. You don’t need any fancy equipment to witness the dust from Halley’s Comet (yep, that’s what these Comets are from) but there are some tips to ensure you get the best show.
My favourite website to find the best times to view Meteor Showers is this one here, you can select the location that you live and it will produce the best times for viewing, bear in mind that the best times are usually in the VERY early morning.
Last year I surprised my 8 year old daughter by waking her up at 3am and driving to meet my brother at the beach (closest place away from bright lights) to watch the Eta Aquraids and it was well worth it. She still talks about it and I treasure those exciting memories as we laid on the beach and counted all the Meteors, I remember one crossed almost the entire skyline!
So be sure to check the weather for this weekend, if you’re set for clear skies these are my tips for viewing the shower with kids.
Also be sure to follow our Instagram friend @Katethelightchaser who kindly supplied us with the featured image. Kate takes incredible photos.
Tips for watching a Meteor Shower with kids!
- Check the weather to be sure of clear skies and the best time to view (using this website)
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT tell your kids you plan on doing it. This one sounds funny but I know my kids would have a really hard time going to sleep knowing they would be awoken during the night. Plus, if you awake to cloudy skies you can go back to bed without the guilt ;).
- Early bedtime for the kids the night beforehand. Because the best time for viewing is usually in the early morning you’re going to want them to be well rested. Perhaps plan an afternoon of activity prior so they’re all set for bed early.
- Download this FREE App – this isn’t a must-do but it did help us to locate the solar systems easily and it’s pretty interesting to use.
- Pack warm clothes, blankets and plenty of cushions so you can lay down and watch the sky. If you happen to live away from the city your backyard trampoline is an even better place to set up your viewing station!
- Don’t forget to pack some insect repellent if you’re in a mosquito prone area and bring a torch to light your way, don’t use it whilst viewing the shower though, it takes time for your eyes to adjust to darkness so you don’t want to keep turning it on and off.
- As I mentioned above you may need to drive to a location away from the city lights. The darker your environment the more chances you have to witness the shower.
- Pack HEAPS of snacks. Kids love to eat popcorn whilst watching a movie and this is no different. I can assure you they will start to get a little restless but a good snack will help them keep their focus.
- Photography tips. I didn’t take my camera with me last year but I do plan to do it this year. It’s a great idea to search what settings are best for ‘Astro Photography’ on your camera. Our good friend from Matt Krumins Photography has written a great blog post sharing some really great tips here.
I hope these tips help you and your kids venture outside to create some special memories together. I’ve heard Sunday morning will be the best time for us to view the shower so fingers are tightly crossed for clear skies.