Vermont Family Programs aims to provide education, resources, and support through collaboration with federal, state, and local programs to ensure Service Members, families, Veterans, and the community are knowledgeable and resilient while promoting retention and mission readiness.

Space, the final frontier…these are the voyages of the starship Enter-prise…. As a kid, I used to love watching the re-runs of Star Trek and dreaming about space travel. Did you know that many modern day astronauts credit the influence of shows such as Star Trek for igniting the spark in them to become astronauts? And we all know what influence all things Star Trek has had on Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, is one of the most relatable scientists of our time. deGrasse Tyson makes discussions about dark matter and nebulas interesting and more importantly understandable to those of us without multiple degrees. Neil also has an awesome sense of humor. He had this to say in the event of alien contact: “If an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eight ball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader." (—From Death by Black Hole ) So, why am I on this topic? Stargazing. While this isn’t the best time of year to view a clear night sky-that honor lies with winter time. However, the most I can manage during that time of year is to glance at the sky as I take my trash bins out for pick up and then race back inside for warmth. In Vermont, we are lucky in that we can view the night sky pretty much anywhere here-unlike bigger cities where artificial lights block out the stars. There is more good news! Four bright planets appear at their best over the next four months: Jupiter in May, Saturn in June, Mars in July and Venus in August. (www.space.com/3369-visible-planets-guide.html). So brush off the dust on that telescope and spend time stargazing with your family. You can also simply look up at the sky with your kids and point out the constellations. If you don’t know the constellations, make it an activity to find them together. You never know, this may be the thing that ignites the spark in them to dream big.

Happy stargazing!

LTC Dave Leonard

State Family Program Director

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