Monday, April 7, 2008

Cheap Date #6 - Stargazing

I try to find fun, interesting dates to go on with my husband that cost less than $20 for both of us. It's been a while, but we are back in the game, trying to go out on cheap dates without breaking the bank.

Many people just pass them by, with an occasional glance towards the heavens to see the twinkly brightness. I know that I have many a time paid them no attention on all but the clearest of nights. So when my husband suggested that we go on a stargazing date, I was a little skeptical, but I agreed.

When my husband was 7 or 8 years old, he got a stargazing book, complete with Planosphere, for Christmas. This was the beginning of our journey. We perused the pages and found what our night sky would hold. Then we packed up the book, a couple of sleeping bags, a flashlight, a pair of binoculars with one side broken (or monoculars, as we called them), hats, mittens, and an adult beverage, and headed to the local park.

Our location wasn't perfect, but we sat overlooking the lake and had a pretty decent view of the sky. We were a little too close to civilization, so the ambient light blocked out stars near the horizon. Quickly we recognized Orien, but then we had to consult the book to find the others: Leo, Hydra, Gemini and many more. It was fantastic to finally put a name to something we've been looking at for years and romantic to snuggle under the sleeping bags while we looked up the different constellations. After about an hour, we were sufficiently cold that we headed home, but I was hooked.

The night sky you can see changes considerably depending on the time of year and even the time of night. The change is gradual, but the stars in March are entirely differnt than those you see in August. We've decided to make this a recurring date, about once every season - maybe skipping the dead of winter! The best part of this date is the thrill of matching the stars in the sky to what you see in the book (or on this website) and the closeness you feel in accomplishing that. Plus it's educational and free! This cheap date is definitely a keeper.


Looby said...

This is a great frugal date, my s/o is an astronomy buff and can point out all the constellations. There are some great websites that keep you updated on events that could be visible.
Earlier this week we got to see the Space Station pass overhead.

Anonymous said...

Looby is correct, it's really cool when you get to see the Space Station. The website Heavens Above (Google it) will help you determine exactly when the Space Station will pass over your area.
I hope this turns out to be another (oops) good suggestion by me. :)

Shanti @ Antishay said...

That's awesome! I need to keep in in my head of "fun dates for when it gets warmer" (here in Seattle) ;)

My family did a lot of stargazing when I was younger - we'd drive out into the middle of nowhere when there was a meteor shower and watch for shooting stars :D

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Great idea! Good snacks and wine would be be even better!

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