Teaching Astronomy and Ornithology as a Home Educator

What’s Up With the Solar System?

  If you’re a star gazer, you might be called an astronomer.  If you’re a bird watcher, you might be called an ornithologist.  For some it’s a hobby, for others, it’s a vocation.  These activities are fascinating whatever the level of involvement.  It just so happens, if you’re part of the home education community you have the flexibility to design and maximize either activity. 

  If your choice is to view God’s handiwork in our solar system, consider a simple telescope.  With just modest equipment, you will be able to capture the moon with its craters and phases.  You should also be able to view Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Saturn.  Of course the clearer the night sky, the more success you can expect to achieve.  With more advanced equipment, you can witness these planets in detail, such as the bands around Jupiter and even Saturn’s rings.  You should be able to capture Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto as well.  As you add items like filters, it’s possible to make out moons around Jupiter and other deep space details.

  Have you ever seen photos or images of constellations and planets with definition?  This activity is called astrophotography.  How cool would it be to have your own celestial photos published?  Orion even offers the StarSeek astronomy app for Apple (ios) and Android handheld devices.  The StarSeek app helps you to identify a target simply by holding your phone or tablet up to the night sky.

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A Little Birdie Told Me….

  Birds come in all shapes and sizes and seem to be everywhere regardless of our geographical location.  A bird watching pursuit does not have to be expensive at all.  Binoculars, a notebook and pencil are about all you need.  How many varieties can you document in a given day?  Can you determine the males and females in your observation?  What seasonal changes to you notice when it comes to bird watching?  A successful recipe for effective bird watching includes patience, the ability to keep still, and a keen ear to the sounds of singing or chirping.  While camouflage isn’t necessary, blending in will add to a desired outcome.  Bird books and inexpensive or free guides are available to help you identify the various species.  Check into designated habitats or sanctuaries in your area.  For additional suggestions and ideas, your state fish and wildlife department can be a resource for ideas and information.  You might even have a bird watching club in your area.

Who’s the Best Teacher in the Whole Wide World?

Mom and Dad, that’s who.  Here’s a little secret, you’ll be learning right alongside of your kids, and have a blast doing it.  As a parent/teacher you could design a whole curriculum around the subject of astronomy and bird watching.  In fact, you could even design a co-op with other homeschoolers and share expenses.  It’s as simple as making a plan, working up a schedule and executing.  Don’t over complicate it, keep it simple and have fun.

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