outside activities
Kids! In! Space!

Stargazing Gear That Turns The Backyard Into Your Personal Planetarium

There’s nothing like stargazing to forge a beautiful father-child bond. Gazing into the infinite cosmos, opening their mind to the possibilities of such unfathomable vastness, and helping them understand our relative insignificance within the grand, sweeping story of the universe. Also, the stars make fun shapes. Look, a bear! And a giant spoon! Here’s everything you need to raise a junior Galileo.

Meade Instruments 216005 Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescopefatherly_meade_instruments_polaris_reflector_telescopeThe Polaris 127 is the ideal starter ‘scope according to Jason Kalirai, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). It has a 5″ aperture for bright, detailed images, 3 eyepieces for ideal magnifications, and slow motion controls that make it easy to track celestial objects moving across the night sky. Attempting to do so without a telescope is an amateur move better known as squinting into the darkness.
Meade Instruments Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescope ($180)

Barska GLX 5mW Green Laserfatherly_barska_glx_green_laserHow do you make sure your kid is focused on the right star when all those suckers look exactly the same from way down here? Point it out with a high-powered tactical laser. While wielding the beam, feel free to pretend you’re a badass Navy SEAL. Or Dr. Evil. Up to you.
Barska GLX 5mW Green Laser ($82)

NightWatch: A Practical Guide To Viewing The Universefatherly_nightwatchIt’s basically The Joy Of Cooking for stargazing, with every chart and how-to guide you could ever need. This edition is updated through 2025 with tables of future solar and lunar eclipses, planetary conjunctions, and planet locations, so you’ve got 10 years to turn your kid into a proper backyard astronomer or find a new hobby.
NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe ($27)

Mission Control Sleeping Bagfatherly_mission_control_sleeping_bagNot everyone can be an astronaut, but everyone can dress up like one and pretend to know what they’re talking about. Hell, it worked for Ben Affleck.
Mission Control Sleeping Bag ($129)

Petzl Tikka RXP Headlampfatherly_petzl_tikka_headlampYou might think a shining beam of light atop your head would inhibit your ability to look up at the stars, and you’d be right. But you know what a shining beam of light is good for? Walking from the car to the stargazing spot on a pitch black night without twisting your ankle or losing your kid.
Petzl Tikka RXP Headlamp ($90)

REI Bug Hut Pro 2 Tentfatherly_rei_bug_hut_pro_2_tentThe stars come out at night, but so do the mosquitoes. The Bug Hut’s built-in odorless Insect Shield® repellant gives you reprieve from the bugs while the full-coverage mesh lets you keep your view of the sky from inside. Duck in and enjoy the fact that you can do this activity with your kid while lying down.
REI Bug Hut Pro 2 Tent ($100)

Celestron COSMOS 90GT WiFi Telescopefatherly_celestron_cosmos_wifi_telescopeThis telescope offers all the technical features necessary for outstanding views and weighs in at just over 20 pounds for easy portability. What’s truly unique, though, is that it’s the first wifi-enabled telescope for amateur astronomers. Just open the COSMOS Celestron Navigator app, hold your phone up to the night sky, and tap any object. The app immediately identifies the star or planet, and the telescope centers on it for easy viewing. Please note, your neighbors down the street are not considered celestial bodies.
Celestron COSMOS 90GT WiFi Telescope ($360)

We Are Starstuff Shirtfatherly_we_are_starstuff_shirtThe kings of the Cosmos + the king of the toys = the new king of your t-shirt drawer.
We Are Starstuff Shirt ($25)

Woolrich Appalachian Trail Jacquard Throwfatherly_woolrich_appalachian_trail_jacquard_throwWhen it starts to get cold but you’re still explaining the space-time continuum, wrap your kid (and yourself) in this wool throw and go on pretending to know what you’re talking about.
Woolrich Appalachian Trail Jacquard Throw ($175)

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