Thursday, December 15, 2011

Searching the skies

            Back in August we heard about the Perseids meteor shower.  We had just started our science book for the year, Exploring Creation with Astronomy from Apologia.  We were in the very beginning of the book and had not learned about meteors yet but a meteor shower still sounded very cool.  My son and I were so excited, we vowed we would not miss it, even though the best time to view the meteors was about 2 am.  So, in the wee hours of the morning, on a humid summer night he and I sat out in our front yard watching the skies hoping for meteors.  We had to be very patient, the stars overhead were silent and blinking, and for the first twenty minutes or so, alone in the heavens.  Then all of the sudden, my son pointed excitedly, he had seen a bright line appear, then quickly disappear in the sky.  His first meteor sighting!  A while later we both saw another one, and before the wall of clouds rolled in, at about 3:30 am, we were both treated to one more.

            When we heard about Geminids, another meteor shower that sounded worth catching on December 14, all the kids were interested.  I told them we would go to their grandparent’s house for it (they live practically on the beach and the beach seemed the best place for star gazing).  

            As it turned out, the trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s (known around our house as Mama and Papa) did not work out.  Still, I had promised the kids a trip to the beach for star gazing, and since this meteor shower could be seen as early as 9 pm, it was an easy promise to keep.  I put the little one down to bed (daddy stayed home with her) then we piled into the minivan with blanket and beach towels and drove to a little stretch of beach to scan the skies.  

            We parked the van right on the sand, laid our blanket out and saw our first meteor of the night almost immediately .  A big white streak of light appeared, stretching over our heads across the clear night sky.  We only stayed a little while, less than an hour, but in that time we saw more than 10 meteors.  It was so much fun to be there, lying on the beach in the dark with my giggling, talkative children watching our science lessons come alive before our very eyes.  

It is in these moments I most love the flexibility and family-centeredness of home schooling.  What could be better than learning together all about God’s wonderful, beautiful world, all while lying on the beach on a warm December night?

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