A fascination with the stars, the study of which is astronomy, can begin at an early age as kids begin to notice the natural world around them. If your kids have begun to ask questions about the night sky, read on for ways to encourage their newfound interest in astronomy. Or if you are a parent or adult, you’ll find our Guide to the Night Sky extract a great tool to learn something new.
One giant leap (outside your front door)
The good news is that an early interest in astronomy can be nurtured in kids by equipping you both with a star map and setting foot outside your front door. Many objects in the night sky can be seen with the naked eye with no need for special equipment, if you know where to look.
Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomers have approved the Guide to the Night Sky 2020, a month by month astronomy guide to the skies above Britain and Ireland (other worldwide locations also included). Here we’ve included one of May’s easy-to-use star maps, with descriptions of what to look out for facing North.
Extract from 2020 Guide to the Night Sky by Storm Dunlop, Wil Tirion and Royal Observatory Greenwich.
Astronomy projects for kids
Our astronomy education team at the Royal Observatory Greenwich have helpfully pulled together all their astronomy projects for kids, categorized by key stage learning up to age 18, in one handy place to help you with home learning. Created by our astronomers in collaboration with our teacher forum, resources to teach kids have been made available on the Royal Museums Greenwich website here.
Ted's Great Space Adventure
If your kids are under 7 and would like to learn more about astronomy, they will love to hear about our resident space bear, Ted, and his astronomy adventures around the Solar System. He can normally be found educating kids about astronomy in the Peter Harris Planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and now he is the star of not one but two of his very own books!
Ted's Great Space Adventure will be published early this summer, and is written by Eizabeth Avery, a fab astronomer, teddy bear enthusiast and Senior Manager of Astronomy Education at Royal Observatory Greenwich. Look out for special previews on our social channels, and sign up to our newsletter to hear more.
It will be followed by a fun sticker activity book, with crosswords, puzzles and colouring in pages, one of which we can exclusively share here.
Discover more astronomy for kids
We hope our astronomy for kids ideas and activities will encourage learning and that you have fun discovering something new together. If you’d like to explore astronomy further with your kids, or need an unusual and educational gift for a kid who dreams of being an astronaut, here are our top picks of what to buy.
- 1. Guide to the Night Sky 2020 (£6.99) is approved by Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomers and is published with updates each year on special celestial events.
- 2. A Planisphere (£9.99) is a useful tool for kids interested in astronomy that helps them visualize the position of the stars and constellations in the sky at any given day. Just turn the dial to the date and time. Buy together with Guide to The Night Sky 2020 for only £15.00
- 3. Use the compass on your phone, or a classic handheld compass (£25.00) to orientate yourself to the direction of the stars you want to see. This one has the added benefit of luminous lettering.
- 4. Astronomy can be fun for kids without the need for expensive equipment. But a pair of binoculars can increase the astronomy features they can see. Binoculars (£50.00), part of a set that includes with a mounted telescope that can placed by a window in their bedroom, and a microscope to encourage STEM learning.
- 5. Kids under 7 will love reading about Ted’s Adventures in Space (£9.99, available to pre-order for early summer shipping) and is a great introduction to astronomy for kids.
- 6. Our Ted soft toy (£10.00) can keep kids company as they dream about their own adventures in space.
- 7. The 76p telescope (£45.00) is designed for small hands (with the help of a parent to help!) but it’s fun rocket shape and bright colour doesn’t mean it’s not serious about astronomy – it’s a proper working tabletop telescope that allows kids to learn about astronomy at closer range.
- 8. An easy way of remembering the planets in our Solar System, this perspex ruler (£2.00) is one of our bestselling astronomy for kids gifts.
- 9. A Galaxy of her Own (£16.99) is a collection of the real-life inspirational stories of 50 women that have shaped space, with beautiful illustrations for kids young and old.
- 10. We would say it’s never too early to start learning about space. If you are looking for astronomy for toddlers, the 8 Little Planets board book (£6.99) is part of the popular Baby University series.