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Astronomy at Home

Astronomy is the perfect activity to do from home – both indoors and outdoors. Read below for some ideas from GMTO’s partner institutions, and others, to keep you and your family informed and entertained.

Backyard Stargazing

Star Trails over McDonald Observatory. Image credit: John Stephen Chandler.

Star Trails over McDonald Observatory. Image credit: John Stephen Chandler.

Enjoy the great outdoors from home by taking your stargazing skills into the backyard. The McDonald Observatory of GMTO partner institution, the University of Texas at Austin, offers weekly stargazing tips. You can also find some great pointers from NASA Science, offering skywatching tips with a daily guide on what to look for. Look out for the brilliant “evening star,” Venus, in the western sky this month.

If you want to spot the International Space Station going overhead, check out this resource from NASA.

Tune In

Get to know the cosmos by tuning in to the Planetary Society’s weekly podcast, Planetary Radio, with Mat Kaplan, showcasing space science and exploration. Check out their 2018 Astronomy Day episode featuring GMT! You can also learn more about GMT in featured episodes on other podcasts including Space Junk, the BBC, syzygy, and Deep Astronomy.

Virtual Learning

Image courtesy: Carnegie Institution

Last week, GMTO partner institution Arizona State University launched ASU For You, a learning resource center offering digital education assets for both learners and educators. Explore ASU’s Infiniscope website or, if you are an educator, join the community for free access to earth and space exploration lessons using simulations and virtual field trips to help educators engage learners with interactive coursework and videos.

Created by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, the Smithsonian Learning Lab offers digital learning materials sourced from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 9 major research centers, and even the National Zoo! For educators and learners alike, the Learning Lab allows you to explore your interests and create your own personalized collections. Our favorite topical collection to browse is the Astronomy Learning Resources.

GMTO partner institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, offers its series of virtual events featuring monthly lectures. Check out last month’s event, Astronomy in 2020: The Great Debates Today, hosted by Carnegie Director, John Mulchaey, as he unpacks the latest and greatest questions astronomers are asking about the mysteries of the universe!

Activities Reimagined Online

Panoramic view of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, September 6, 2013. Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) (A20120325000) can be seen in the center. Image Credit: Smithsonian

Panoramic view of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, September 6, 2013. Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) (A20120325000) can be seen in the center. Image Credit: Smithsonian

One of our favorite museums to virtually visit is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which maintains the world’s largest collection of aviation and space artifacts.

The Royal Museums Greenwich (home of the famous Greenwich Observatory in London, UK) offers a selection of online stories and guides in their digital collections. Our favorite theme to explore is Space and Stargazing, featuring a variety of space and discovery stories including their 2020 guide on how and when to watch a meteor shower and how to get started in astrophotography.