Cosmic Gifts for any Occasion

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Stargazing is a great family and group activity. Carolyn Collins Petersen

There you are — shopping for that hard-to-shop-for person on your gift list. You might be searching for the best birthday gift ever. Or, a holiday present for a loved one. Or some other special occasion that calls for the perfect gift. If your giftee is into astronomy and space exploration, you're in luck. There are many good ideas to please even the most cosmic person you know. Let's explore the universe of possibilities.

 

  • How about an astronomy book? Or a magazine subscription? There are amazing books on astronomy for all levels, from beginner and up. In the article Astronomy Books for All Ages, you can find some good reads. The best ones allow you to curl up and read on a cloudy night and still learn something new about the cosmos. You can learn about observational astronomy or explore the accomplishments of the world's professional astronomers.  Astronomy Magazine at Astronomy.com is a great subscription for every level of observer. Sky&Telescope.com offer products for both beginners and experienced observers. Check 'em out!  
  • Help name craters on a Mars map that actual Mars explorers will use. The Uwingu.com project, which is a group of respected planetary scientists, educators, NASA vets and business people, is offering a chance for you to name a crater on their Mars map, a great gift for the holidays or any special occasion. The map is supposed to be used by future Mars explorers. The cost ranges from $5.00 (USD) to $5,000 (for really large craters!) and the proceeds go to help fund science research and education. Join in the worlds first crowdsourced Mars map, and give a special gift at the same time! 
  • There's AstroApp for That! These days just about everybody has some sort of device — from a smart phone or phablet to a laptop and desktop computer. Astronomy programs and apps for all the different devices are plentiful, ranging in price from free to several hundred dollars. In the article Digital Astronomy, you can explore some of the best-known products out there. You can give yourself or your giftee a present that will keep you and them exploring the skies for many, many nights using a smartphone or tablet computer.
  • But I really Want a Telescope! Sooner or later, even the most patient star hopper decides to magnify the view. That's when they start thinking about telescopes, and that's when some serious money starts getting spent. If you or someone you want to give a gift to is at that point, think about getting a pair of binoculars first. They're like having a telescope for each eye, and you can also use them during the day for birdwatching and other activities. There's more information about these in the article Stargazing on the Cheap
  • Warm clothes make the stargazer happy. No matter where you live, at some point, you'll find yourself observing with the kids or your friends on a chilly night. This actually happens even in warm-weather areas. So, the best thing you can do is provide cuddly clothes that keep your astronomer warm on the outside. Hats, gloves, windbreaker, and rain slick are some of the obvious things to supply to the stargazer in your life. Chemical hand warmers are a great stocking stuffer, along with a few energy bars to munch on during those long all-nighters.

And, of course, the best gift you can give is your attention and interest to someone who wants to learn the sky. Think about attending a star party with your friend or family member.

Check out the local planetarium for a fascinating star show. Also check out the local college or university to see if they offer public lectures in astronomy. These are all ways to give the gift of the cosmos to someone you care about. The best part is, you'll all get something out of it!