Good morning, starshine…the Earth says hello! You twinkle above us. We twinkle below. Pretty much every morning I am awake with the sunrise, and this is the view from our doorstep. The truth is that right in front of our house is a mess of telephone and cable wires, an eyesore to be sure, but in the pink and orange hues of the morning, I never even notice until I take a picture and realize that our view isn’t perfect. Note that we live across from Reagan National Airport, and we can see the planes taking off and landing. Strangely, the airplanes rising and falling in the air don’t detract from the beauty of the morning; in fact, they add to it. Somehow it makes you feel connected to your spot on Earth and all of the people on it, all flying here and there, to and fro, like bees and their hive. We often sing this song when we wake up at the crack of dawn, which I’ll admit is pretty much every day. Enjoy it on Spotify for free, if you like!
Space is a hot topic right now in our household, especially for the five year old. Earlier this year, my mother sent the kids this Lunar Calendar, which I intend to order again for the 2013 year. I highly recommend it if your kids are into space. My son loves it because it glows in the dark. I love it because it shows the phases of the moon so clearly. We often note what day it is and go outside to look to see if it really looks like it is “supposed to” according to the calendar. In the photo above, the waning crescent is visible and beautiful, cradling the leftover darkness of night.
Now look way, way up. Past the unsightly telephone wires. See that tiny white dot? Twinkle, twinkle little star…how I wonder what you are… Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore. Check this out. Google Sky (the version I am using is called Sky Map by Mobius Entertainment and is FREE) has this app that is simply amazing. If you have a smartphone or Ipad, consider letting your child go look in the sky late in the evening or early in the morning while the stars are still out. It doesn’t just show you constellations and the planets, it actually tells you what the exact twinkle twinkle little star’s name is.
This is the free version of the app, so please disregard the deodorant advertisement, and for goodness sakes don’t tap on it, just look at the picture. This is a screen shot I took with our Ipad. I simply pointed the ipad camera in the same direction as the photo I took above with the twinkling star at the top. The horizontal line is the horizon, and you can see that the sun has not risen quite yet. Above the horizon is – yes – the waning crescent moon and there up high above is our twinkling star, and BAM its name is VENUS. And did you note the positions of Mercury and Saturn? Even though we couldn’t see them, we sure stared up at the sky right where they were, empowered, knowing our place in the cosmos. Since it is an interactive real-time app, and your child is looking at real stars simultaneously, it is absolutely a hands-on way to use technology with your kids. An excellent tool for learning. Are you sold yet? Because I sure am!