My husband loves the night sky. He has taken us out to see meteor showers numerous times, and has seen more "shooting stars" than I can count. When I heard about the Classical Astronomy Celestial Almanack, I knew that Mr. Man would be interested in sharing it with the kids. Now is actually a great time for stargazing for our family, as we recently moved to a micro-town where the stars are unbelievably clear. We've never been able to see so many stars from our own deck before. Also, the winter weather here is a lot more mild than it was in northern Indiana.
The Celestial Almanack can be purchased through CurrClick via a quick and easy download. I found this description there:
Learn the visual astronomy of the early American almanacks, from the Puritan colonists to the Founding Fathers. Learn the constellations, follow the phases of the Moon, discover the visible planets, and learn the signs of the passing seasons. Find out how these signs relate to the calendar and traditional celestial navigation. Use the Celestial Almanack as a monthly illustrated ezine companion guide for the Signs & Seasons curriculum, a traditional hard copy publication from Fourth Day Press.
The Celestial Almanack is great for us, since we do not own a telescope. All of the objects and events mentioned in the Almanack are visible with the naked eye. Everyone can see them at the same time, so no jostling the telescope trying to be first! I mean...
Mr. Man read through the entire publication, and said, "It's a great almanac!" He really liked the illustrations showing where to locate the stars at different moments, and loved that it even diagrams how the sun changes position over time. It is written in an easy, conversational style, and could easily be used by an older elementary aged child on their own. However, we have always found stargazing to be a family event, and I would encourage my readers to do the same! The one thing that I found a little distracting about the almanac was that the activities are rated by difficulty - but the rating system is never really explained, that I could find. The higher the rating, the more difficult the task. While I appreciate knowing that a certain task may be more difficult than another, I still wondered if the star rating has something to do with Classical Astronomy's Signs & Seasons curriculum. Unfortunately, as with pretty much every other time Mr. Man has excitedly gotten the kids outside to see something specific in the sky, there were clouds. You know all those stars I talked about being able to see? Not a single one was visible. Fortunately, the Celestial Almanack gives many different examples of things to see over the course of the month, and my night watchers are eager to try again. Meanwhile, Mr. Man showed the kids online pictures and used some of the materials from the Almanack to teach them about the stars.
Side note: As one of our biggest reasons for homeschooling is the ability to integrate the Bible and our faith into all the subjects we teach, I really appreciate the Statement of Faith page of the Classical Astronomy website! I do believe it is the first time I've seen an invitation to salvation on one, though, sadly enough. I thought it was really awesome as I read through it!
If someone in your family loves stargazing, or you want to learn (or teach) more about astronomy, I do believe the Celestial Almanack would be a great resource to consider. And, at only $3 per digital issue, it's very affordable, too - especially if you have a portable device that you can download it onto, and save ink and paper rather than printing the sky maps. Be sure to sign up for their email newsletters, too! The Celestial Almanack is one resource I can definitely see myself purchasing in the future!
***Note: I received a digital copy of the February 2012 Celestial Almanack in exchange for my review through TOS Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are those of myself and Mr. Man.