Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent: Hope: Activity

The Night Sky

One of the most beautiful creations God left for us here on earth is the night sky. So for today's family activity, take a very close look at stargazing.

What You'll Need:
  • a star map (you can buy on or print one off the web, skyandtelescope.com is a good place to start)
  • a clear night sky
For centuries, stars have been used as a compass to guide people in their travels. In the United Stats, African American slaves used to look for the Big Dipper to point them north toward freedom. Can you think of a group of people we talk about during Advent who used the stars too? If you said the Magi or Wise Men you are right on the mark, and we'll learn some more about them in the coming weeks.

You can look at stars by just going out into your backyard or a safe park. Wherever you go, it's best to be away from lights, so if you live in the city, it's a good idea to find a more rural location in order to have the best view. It takes a half an hour for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark and see the most stars, so make sure you have plenty of blankets and clothing for bundling up. But before you set out on your stargazing adventure, be sure to study your star map so you can be prepared to find constellations.

Some constellations never rise or set and the only reason we can't see them during the day is because of the sun, but they are there all of the time. Others are seasonal constellations that change throughout the year meaning you can see some during the fall, but not in the spring. All stars fall into either of these categories except for one very special star that the Magi saw. The Gospel of Matthew tells us the Wise Men observed a new star rising for the very first time in the East, which marked the birth of the Messiah and led themm to Bethlehem (2:2). While you're out stargazing imagine you are one of the Wise Men and see if you can find a star bright enough to guide you hundreds of miles to seek out a king!

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