Astronomy Camp offers an opportunity to investigate the universe in a new and exciting way.
General Camp Information
Astronomy Camp is directed by astronomer Dr. Don McCarthy together with an engaging, knowledgable staff, many of whom are former Astronomy Campers. Building on 30 years of experience, they offer an opportunity for both young and old to experience the universe in a new and exciting way. Teenage students gain a cosmic perspective of the earth and themselves. We examine career alternatives and reinforce school lessons through real scientific and engineering applications and investigations. With the wide range of topics incorporated into the Astronomy Camp curriculum, it is much more of a science camp than purely star gazing. Adults escape from regular routines of daily life freeing them to wonder and seek answers to a lifetime of questions. Every Camper is able to Reach for the Stars!

At night, Campers observe a plethora of celestial objects under dark skies. They become astronomers, operating research-class telescopes, keeping nighttime hours, interacting with leading scientists, interpreting their own observations, and investigating their own questions about astronomy and the universe. Depending on the specific event, Campers use telescopes on Mt. Lemmon or Kitt Peak, such as a 12-inch Meade LX-200 telescope, the 61-inch Kuiper telescope, and the 12, 24, and 32-inch telescopes on Mt. Lemmon. It is sometimes possible to use the 90-inch Bok telescope, the Arizona Radio Observatory's 12m telescope, and the Submillimeter Radio Telescope on Mt. Graham. By the end of Camp all Campers are intimately connected with some of the most advanced technology available for cosmic discovery. Astronomy is about exploration of the unknown, and Astronomy Camp fosters that philosophy.

Campers have an amazing array of unique tools to help them explore their universe. All telescopes can be equipped with a selection of instruments, including 35mm cameras, digital cameras, a photometer, three CCD cameras, two CCD spectrometers, and specialized equipment for detailing imaging of the Sun. The Advanced Camps feature access to professional instruments for imaging at visual, infrared, and radio wavelengths with large format CCDs and HAWAII (1024x1024 pixel) electronic cameras. A complement of computers allows campers to analyze data using professional languages (IRAF, IDL, and others) and to simulate astronomical phenomena.

During the daytime, internationally known scientists speak on current scientific topics, including the latest NASA space missions. Students also build crystal radios, dissect cameras, explore the diverse geology and ecology though hiking, outdoor demonstrations, and travel between mountaintop observatories. Space artists illustrate how science becomes art and musicians train our ear to understand musical interpretations of scientific processes. All Camps include an in-depth tour of The University of Arizona's Mirror Laboratory, now producing not only the world's largest telescope mirrors with 8.4-meter diameters but also some of the most advanced large-format optical designs for telescopes to date.
Interesting Selections
Data and candid pictures from past Camps are available at: On June 8, 2013, teenagers at the Beginning Teen Astronomy Camp communicated live via amateur radio with astronaut Chris Cassidy who was orbiting Earth aboard the International Space Station.

Sample Projects at Astronomy Camp:

Archive of Astronomy Camp CCD images and data:
  • Adaptive optics images of weather on the planet Neptune from the Large Binocular Telescope at infrared wavelengths
  • Image of the NGC 3718 galaxy cluster (Astronomy Picture of the Day) combining electronic data from the 60-inch and 12-inch telescopes.
  • Images with a 4096x4096 pixel CCD (compressed FITS format)
  • Color image of the interacting galaxy, Arp 220, obtained at the 61" telescope with a 1024x1024 CCD at the 1997 Advanced Teen Camp.
Liquid Nitrogen powered cannon!

MAP of The University of Arizona campus.