When the sun sets and the stars are out in full force don’t run inside just yet. You may have finished a scrumptious meal on your POLYWOOD® outdoor dining set, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. One of our personal favorite pastimes is to involve the entire family in an intimate and magical night of stargazing!
Stargazing is a unique way to #RethinkOutdoor with friends and family no matter what age! We spend so much time running from place to place and staring at our screens that we often neglect the simple wonders of the nighttime sky. Become reacquainted with the cosmos by setting up a comfortable stargazing spot in your backyard and soaking in the stars.
Picking the Perfect Night
Not all nights are created equally, and in order to actually see as many stars as possible you should plan ahead and check the weather. Obviously you will want clear skies, so any overcast evenings will ruin your fun before it begins. Even if rain isn’t in the forecast check your local cloud cover for extra assurance.
Take the temperature into consideration as well. If it’s too chilly your kids could become irritable or impatient. Jackets, gloves, and blankets are always an option, but choose a time when it’s nice and moderate outside so you and your family can focus on the stars.
The key to a great stargazing experience is to eliminate light pollution, so you should also coordinate your stargazing evening around the brightness of the moon. That’s right — a bright, full moon will illuminate the night sky and obscure many exciting constellations from view. Quickly check the current moon phase to choose a night when the moon will allow a clear view of the stars.
What You’ll Need
Beyond a little online research or a book from the library, you don’t have to spend much money to stargaze. However, packing some essential supplies will make your evening more memorable and enjoyable, whether you’re just venturing into your backyard or driving to your lake house.
- You’ll be surrounded by the dark night sky, so bring a flashlight in case you need to check a star map or open a fresh bag of snacks.
- Pack a compass or simply use the compass app on your smartphone to orient yourself and find constellations easily.
- Pack everyone’s favorite snacks and drinks so you can relax and have fun throughout the night. Staring at the stars is educational and a lot of fun, but you can forge as many lasting memories surrounding a POLYWOOD® Fire Pit Table eating s’mores or drinking your kid’s favorite brand of root beer in between stargazing sessions.
- Bring some mosquito repellant and have your kiddos apply it when you get outside, especially if your yard is home to critters that can cover your skin in bites during an otherwise enjoyable evening.
- The Night Sky app is essential for amateur stargazers, available on iOS devices. Just pull up the app on your smartphone to see an augmented reality display of the stars, constellations, planets, and satellites right above you!
- A great tool for stargazing is an old-fashioned pair of binoculars — no fancy telescope necessary! Binoculars are more stable and provide a wider view of the sky. When buying binoculars look for a pair that have a magnification between 7 and 10, and an aperture of approximately 50mm.
Create a Comfortable Space
Bring several outdoor blankets and pillows for your stargazing adventure to create a cozy space where everyone in the family can curl up. Sleeping bags aren’t a bad idea either, especially if you think your younger children will doze off before you’re ready to call it quits.
You can lay out and snag the perfect view of the stars from the comfort of a Nautical Chaise with Arms on your patio or directly in your backyard. The low-maintenance HDPE lumber can withstand any outdoor weather conditions, and the spacious design allows plenty of room for getting comfortable.
Of course, the dependable Nautical Curveback Adirondack Chair provides an ideal stargazing experience with curved back slats and a waterfall front so you can remain seated for hours without getting restless. Upgrade to the ultimate outdoor setting with a Nautical Curveback Adirondack Set with Fire Pit Table. The Nautical Fire Pit Table will keep you cozy on cooler starry nights with a warm, burning fire you can initiate with just the push of a button.
So you’re finally ready to map the stars. Great! Your first step should be to find Polaris, also called the North Star. To find it, try to locate the Big Dipper (a seven-star constellation resembling a large saucer). Polaris is located directly above the two stars forming the right-hand side of the Big Dipper. It’s the brightest star in the sky, and the perfect starting point to finding the other major constellations.
Download our handy constellation guide and assist your kids in finding these significant constellations. Check out a stargazing book from your local library to learn the fascinating history behind the most popular constellations.
A fire table can really transform your backyard, setting the scene for countless nights of swapping stories and gazing up at the stars. Learn how to integrate a fire table into your space for your upcoming evening of stargazing and any occasion that can be livened up with a drink, a roaring fire, and your favorite people.
Can’t decide how to update your outdoor space? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.