Activity time: 60 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Telescopes and/or binoculars
- Outdoor wear and insect repellent, appropriate for location and season
Preparation for Activity
- Speak with your minister, director of religious education, or other members to identify space or astronomy enthusiasts in your congregation, and invite them to co-lead your Night Sky Adventure. If you cannot find an expert to join you, look for astronomy books at your local library that describe and depict various constellations.
- Find a safe site that offers night access and a clear view of the sky.
- Optional: If coordinating an outdoor night-time experience is not possible, research stargazing events at local science museums, universities, or nature organizations. Arrange for the children to attend a night hike, a planetarium presentation, or an astronomy/space exhibit.
- Use congregational newsletters, announcements, orders of service, website, etc. to invite congregational members of all ages to join you, along with Faithful Journeys participants' families. Make arrangements for shared transportation and permission slips if needed.
Description of Activity
With telescopes and binoculars, go outside in the dark and enjoy the night sky. Point out particular constellations or planets if you can, or provide books and other resources to help everyone identify them. Invite participants to gaze at the stars and find their own images or patterns. Say something like:
Learning and asking questions is an important part of Unitarian Universalism. One way we learn is by studying the world around us. When we seek to learn or help others learn by observing and asking questions, we act on our fourth Principle, the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
If a space or astronomy enthusiast is with you, invite children to ask questions. Write down any questions you cannot answer; suggest to parents they research the answers together with their children at home.
Gather the group for closure to your Night Sky Adventure. Guide the children to articulate their experience of looking, wondering, and researching about space as statements of their own faithful action - statements they might add to the Faithful Journeys Path in your meeting space. For example, "I looked carefully at the lights in the sky and asked which ones were planets, stars, or airplanes flying by." / "I compared the sky to the pictures in the book to see if I could find the constellation Orion." / "I realized the sky looks different through a telescope." Next time you meet, invite children who shared this experience to post a Faithful Footstep about their fourth Principle actions. A few may have post-Night Sky research to report!
Including All Participants
To include participants with limited mobility, find an accessible location for your Night Sky Adventure. Invite participants who are blind to share their observations and wonderings about night noises and other sensations outdoors and how the night seems different from the daytime.