Kindergarten Astronomy

Mark Taylor

My daughter's kindergarten class had their annual "Kindergarten Sleep Over at School" recently. What a sight - 58 sleeping bags covering almost every square inch of floor in two adjoining classrooms, including under tables and the teachers' desks!

As part of the evening's fun I had volunteered to set up my telescope so the kids could look at the Moon, Venus, and Mars. I had taken my telescope to the school one morning early in the year to show the kids the third quarter Moon, and they had asked me at that time to come back for their "camp out" at the end of the year.

So it was just me, my 8" LX-200, and 58 kindergartners (who had just made and eaten s'mores!) filtering through a well-organized line by teachers and assistants to look through the telescope.

Crazy? Perhaps. Fun? Definitely. Appreciated? Absolutely!

Who says kids can't figure out how to see through an eyepiece, or appreciate some aspect of what they are seeing at that age? Of the 58 five- and six-year-olds, there was only one child who just couldn't get an image immediately or with a little coaching, but she still saw the Moon briefly after some work.

The kids saw the 98.7% full disk of the Moon, Venus in it's quarter phase, a close-up of the Moon's terminator, and finally Mars.

The night was unfortunately one of fairly mushy and unsteady seeing, but they were nonetheless wowed with the sights. A few of the kids even described what they were seeing in the bad seeing - "it looks like it's cooking" and "it looks like water." That didn't stop them from noticing the shape of Venus or spying large craters and the rough terminator on the Moon.

It was a non-stop line of excited tykes for over two hours! The kids and teachers alike were simply thrilled with having the telescope there.

Mark Taylor; last updated: October 03, 2007 Prev Next