Stargazing

 

Learn about the stars, planets and meters at local planetariums or outside at a star party.

Whether your family loves to gaze at the stars to learn about planets, stars and solar systems or merely enjoys staring at a star-studded summer sky from a blanket in the backyard, August is a great time to get out and enjoy sthe stars—both outdoors and inside.

If you’re an outdoor family you should have no trouble finding an open space with dark sky for a quality viewing experience—think state or local parks, Bay beaches, campgrounds and nature centers. If you’re not comfortable enough with your star knowledge, there are several astronomy clubs around the state that host star parties and other events for local enthusiasts and general public.

If you prefer a nice air-conditioned astronomy lesson, you can head to one of about a dozen nearby local planetariums. With fun activities and learning programs, a planetarium is a great way to get your child interested in our solar system. Read on for tips on how and where to enjoy our skies.

Outdoor Stargazing

While going to a planetarium is a great experience, you can have just as much fun gazing at the stars outside. For a great stargazing spot, head to a big open area, one where you’re easily able to see a large amount of the sky—the farther away from light pollution, the better. You’ll want it to be as dark as possible, with no streetlights, buildings, or ambient light from a nearby city. If you’re ready to head outside, but want some in-the-know astronomers to go along with, look for a local astronomy club. There are quite a few in Maryland, including the Howard Astronomical League (howardastro.org), which holds regularly scheduled public and members-only star parties at Alpha Ridge Park in Marriottsville. The Astronomical Society of Greenbelt (greenbeltastro.org) holds monthly meetings at the H.B. Owens Science Center and regular star parties. For a list of clubs near you, visit astroleague.org.

Upcoming Meteor Showers

August 11-13
Perseids Meteor Shower
This is easily one of the best meteor showers of the year, and will have no moon to contend with, giving you a great chance to see lots of fire in the sky.

July 29-August 23
Southern Delta Aquariids
Best seen from the Southern Hemisphere, you can still catch a glimpse of some falling meteors during early August.

October 7-8
Draconids Meteor Shower
This is a good one to watch with little kids, as the showers peak in the early in the evening, rather than in the wee morning hours.

Planetariums

Davis Planetarium
Explore the sky on a guided tour through space under the star theater dome. Showing thousands of stars and planets, Davis Planetarium has dozens of shows to teach your child about the solar system, including “Big Bird’s Adventure,” “We Are Aliens,” and “Black Holes.” Science Center general admission is around $25; $19 for children.
Maryland Science Center 
601 Light Street, Baltimore
410-685-2370; mdsci.org

Spaceflight America Museum/Arthur Storer Planetarium
Exciting opportunities to learn about the impact of space and technology at this aerospace-themed museum. A typical tour includes a planetarium show, museum tour, and an activity or demonstration. Usually open the third Saturday of the month. $5 adults, $4 children 3–10; 3 and younger are free.
520 Fox Run Blvd.
Prince Fredrick
spaceflightamericamuseum.org

Howard B. Owens Science Center
The largest planetarium dome in Maryland can project 8,000 on the dome from the comfort of 170 reclining upholstered seats. The Planetarium is operated by Prince George’s County Public Schools and offers public programs on the second Friday of every month from September through May, as well as mini programs on selected Friday nights. $5 adults, $3 children 3–10.
pgcps.org/howardbowens

NatureSphere at Robinson Nature Center
Full-dome theater and planetarium showing the night sky or movies.
$5 adults; $3 children. Planetarium is $3 extra.
Columbia
robinsonfoundation.org

Ausherman Planetarium/Natelli Observatory
Summer afternoon matinees. Evening programs during the school year.
210 Madison St.,
Frederick
education.fcps.org/essl/general-information

William Brish Planetarium
Hagerstown
301-766-2898; wbplanetarium.weebly.comweebly.comweebly.com

Watson-King Planetarium
Towson University, Towson
towson.edu/fcsm/centers/planetarium.html

Montgomery College Planetarium
Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus
montgomerycollege.edu/departments/planet