What's in the night sky?
Space Camps can work well at any time of the year but depending on the theme of your camp and the activities that you want to run, some seasons might be better than others.
If you are planning a Lunar Camp you will obviously want to include some time for observing the Moon . Autumn and Winter months have the obvious benefit that it gets dark much earlier and this can be particularly useful if you are running a Space Camp for KS1 pupils who will struggle with staying up late. During these months the stars and planets can take awhile to become visible so it is well worth checking when sunset is and the time that the moon will rise. The best time is to observe the Moon is not when it is full as it is so bright that it makes it difficult to make out features on the Moon’s surface such as mountains and craters. A quarter moon or gibbous moon would be ideal for making moon observations. Most diaries show how the phases of the moon vary across the month with a tiny image but there are also many websites that include Moon Phase Calendars such as moonphases.co.uk.
If you are planning a Starlight Camp then you will want to make time for stargazing. The brighter the Moon, the more difficult it is to see the stars. A crescent moon or new moon are ideal for observing stars so you will want to consult a Moon Phases Calendar again to make sure that you choose the best night to observe constellations.
There are many other objects that you may want your young astronomers to observe such as meteor showers, Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn. The BBC Sky at Night programme and magazine is a really useful reference to help plan this element of your Space Camp and choose the best night for observing the night sky. The Sky at Night website also has a really useful, monthly observing guide.
Perhaps you will be focussing on living and working in Space in your Space Camp - in which case wouldn't it be wonderful to plan this camp for an evening when the ISS will pass overhead so the children can see the astronauts at work. NASA have a useful website called Spot the Station which will help you to identify these opportunities.
There are a number of celebrations of astronomy and Space science across the year. Perhaps you might want to plan a Space Camp to take place in World Space Week that takes place every October. Maybe you might want to include a Space Camp in your school's celebrations of British Science week.
Celestial Event Calendars