Sleeping Bag Stargazing
Spend an evening relaxing with the sights and sounds of nature, snuggled up in a sleeping bag under the night sky. Look up and marvel at the moon and stars!
What You’ll Need
- Sleeping bags, cozy blankets, and fluffy pillows
- Warm clothing like hats, scarves, and mittens
- A paper star map or a stargazing app on your smartphone
- A pair of binoculars or a kids’ telescope (optional, but fun!)
Get Ready... Get Set…
1. Watch the weather for a dry, mild night with a clear sky.
2. Find an outdoor place that’s as dark as possible, far away from light sources like street lamps, businesses, or neighboring houses. (If you choose your backyard, turn off all indoor and outdoor lights before heading outside.)
3. Set up your sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows on a level or gently sloped part of the ground, in a place where trees, wires, and buildings won’t interfere with your view of the sky. Use your flashlights as little as possible—get safely settled, then turn them off.
1. Snuggle up in your sleeping bag or blankets, and settle into a comfortable seated or lying position that gives you a good view of the sky.
2. Once your eyes adjust to the darkness, notice the stars and moon in the sky above.
3. See what constellations you can recognize on your own. Ursa Major (with its 7 main stars making up the Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper) are among the easiest for kids to spot—they’re both shaped like a ladle. Find the last star on the tip of the Little Dipper’s handle and you’ll have identified Polaris, also known as the North Star. You can also look for Taurus, Orion, and Gemini in the fall and winter sky.
4. Use your stargazing app or paper map to familiarize yourself with other stars and sky objects, like planets. You may even spot an orbiting satellite, or an airplane on a nighttime flight—watch for blinking lights. If you’re lucky, you might see a shooting star (a meteor) streaking across the sky!
Once the stars and moon have worked their magic, you’ll probably feel relaxed and sleepy. Use your flashlights to help gather up everything, then safely make your way back indoors. If you live in a warm-weather place, consider staying outdoors for a cozy camp-out: Pitch a small tent early in the evening, before darkness falls, and move your sleeping gear into your tent when it’s time for bed.