Sharing the Magic of Fall With Children

John M. Dabbs

As we turn to Autumn, the darkness appears earlier in the evening. With the nights also becoming more chilled, it's more comfortable to be outdoors. Bugs are less of a nuisance, yet we can often see bats in the air just after sunset. The crisp evenings often have lower humidity, bringing clear night skies to feast upon. These are perfect settings to spend with our children, dates, or family.

Boldly go

The vivid colors of leaves become vibrant this time of year. It won't be long in my part of the country before the forest canopy is at peak color. The backdrop is perfect for hiking, and campfires. It is also the right temperature for bonfires closer to home as well.

There is nothing wrong with a bonfire in the backyard if you're not camping (subject to local regulations). It's a great way to spend quality time with your friends and family. You'll also find this a great time to tell ghost stories to your kids. You may choose to tell them about the constellations, the Milky Way, or talk to them about space travel. It's a magical time our lives.

With NASA, Space-X, and Blue Horizon working together with other contractors to return to the moon, life and expectations of exploring the universe are smoldering again. For commercial space flights to be taking place within our lifetime is exhilarating. We should be sharing this information with our children.

When I was young, and saw men walk on the moon, I wanted to be an astronaut, or at least work at NASA. This was a dream... until they stopped going to the moon and put a glider into orbit. That's right - I looked upon the space shuttle as a glider, even though it was the most advanced spacecraft ever to be launched into orbit at the time. I just couldn't get excited about it and lost interest in NASA during fifth grade. It wasn't until they began building rockets for Mars missions that I began to get interested again. I've even built model rockets again, and look through the Space-X and NASA websites to learn about the different spacecraft.

Share your passion and knowledge

We can share our passions for space, science, or exploration with our children. I use an app on my iPhone to locate or identify planets and stars in the night sky and show them to my sons. We track the International Space Station (ISS)and watch for it to fly over when the weather cooperates. If we'd only had tools like this to use in my youth...

Thanks to NASA and the space station, we've taken up ham radio (amateur radio), and plan to build a multi band tracking antenna assembly to listen to and communicate with hams on the ISS in the near future. A simple UHF and VHF analog transceiver are all that is required. We can use plans found on the internet to make a "home-brew" antenna system.

Both of my sons (biological) have their ham radio license. They've embraced my own passion for science and technology and we've been able to share our love of the space program to work on projects together.

Yet, there's nothing wrong with just sitting back and enjoying the beauty of the night sky. It's mesmerizing around a campfire. Peaceful and relaxing. It is a time for contemplation, reflection, and being at peace with yourself... and nature.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN
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