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9 Ways to Enjoy the Night Sky

9 Ways to Enjoy the Night Sky

Here's how and when to watch the Perseid meteor shower tonight and 8 other ways to enjoy the night sky.

Here's how and when to watch tonight's Perseid meteor shower as well as 8 other ways to enjoy the night sky in your area.


1. Watch tonight's meteor shower.

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most popular meteor showers of the year, will peak tonight (Aug. 11) in the late evening and early morning hours of tomorrow (Aug. 12). Once it gets dark enough, you can expect to see a meteor (or shooting star) streak across the sky every couple of minutes. You will be able to see them best if the sky is clear. The shower can be seen any time after 9pm in your area, according to NASA scientists. The best time to spot meteors, they suggest, is during the darkest part of the night, between 2am and dawn. It can take 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark for best viewing, so be patient!

2. Count the stars.

Does someone in Iceland, England, or Russia see the same number of stars you see? Join NASA’s Star Count program, count the number of stars you see on a clear night, and send your data to NASA to share and compare with other curious kids from all over the world. 

3. Sleep under the stars.

Find details on the best places to go camping in your area as well as some tips for doing so safely in our Camping 101 Guide.

4. Call the moon by its Algonquin name.

The Algonquin tribes, who lived in regions from New England to Lake Superior, named the full moons each month to help track the seasons. The full moon in August is called the Full Sturgeon Moon because the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. Find the other 11 full moon names at

5. See an outdoor movie.

Pack up the popcorn and a blanket and watch a movie in the park. Not on your tablet, silly! On a genuine big screen. With the resurgence of drive-in movies in New York, there are plenty of opportunities in your area to watch a movie outside. Visit our outdoor movies guide for details on screenings near you. 

6. Make a telescope.

You don’t need a NASA-quality telescope to get a close look at stars. Build one from National Geographic Kids Get Outside Guide using paper towel tubes. See if you can name some of the constellations that you may spot! Here are step-by-step instructions.

7. Eat like an astronaut.

astronaut foodFreeze-drying food is a process that removes its water—reducing the food’s weight up to 90 percent, making it smaller and easier to preserve. Today, Astronaut Foods, founded in the 1970s to supply the astronauts of NASA’s Apollo Missions, produces a variety of novelty treats including Neapolitan AstroRox Ice Cream Drops. As you gaze at the stars while enjoying this treat, imagine you’re in a Space Shuttle. No
freezers needed! ($3.50;


8. Find Polaris

Finding the Big Dipper, an asterism—a small grouping of stars—in the constellation Big DipperUrsa Major (Great Bear) is one of the easiest ways to find Polaris (the North Star). Once you find the seven-star asterism, draw an imaginary line connecting the two stars on the edge of the bowl (without the handle) from bottom to top and continue it until you reach a really bright star—Polaris! 

9. Romp around under the full moon.

Wolves only turn into wolves when the moon is full. Play on this story and let your children and their friends run wild during the upcoming full moons (Sept. 2, Oct. 1, Oct. 31) by playing a game of “Where-wolf”—a spin on Sardines, where one person hides and everyone else (the werewolves) looks for the hider. The twist from regular hide-and-seek: Once someone finds the hider, they hide too. The last person to find the group of hiders has to then hide first.



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