Advanced Teen Astronomy Camp - Required Essay
Admission to the Advanced Astronomy Camp requires an essay of at least 1200 words. This essay is our primary means of gauging a student's motivation, creativity, maturity, and ability to follow directions. These are qualities we value highly in our Advanced Camp students and we feel they are valuable to future success.

New students must write on one of the following three topics. Previous Advanced Campers wishing to reapply must write about a proposed research project that might also interest other Advanced Campers; see below for a more detailed description.

To be admitted, new students must carefully follow all directions below. The essay must combine both fact and imagination. Students should first research existing knowledge about the topic and use that research as a basis for imaginative extrapolation. The factual basis must cite at least two published references. The essay must start with an imaginative title. We include some sample references to help you incorporate current understanding.

To help prospective campers gauge the level of competition, we provide two essays from students who attended the 2000 Advanced Camp: "The Slumber of the Suns" (Cheryl Johnston) and "The Legacy of Copernicus" (Ezra Rapoport).

Essay Topics:
Essay #1: More than 2300 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars. Pretend you are responsible for choosing one of THESE planets or its hypothetical moon(s) to colonize. Where would you go and what would you hope to learn there? Base your essay on known properties of the parent star(s) and the planets themselves.

Essay #2: Pretend you choose to visit a hypothetical planet in a KNOWN binary star system of your choice. Describe how and why life on your planet would be different from that on Earth. Base your essay on the known properties of the parent stars (e.g., mass, temperature, luminosity, orbit, lifetime, age, etc.).

Essay #3: Pretend you are the assistant of a famous astronomer (past or present). Describe a research project in which you are involved and how it has impacted your life. Base your essay on biographical information about the particular astronomer and his/her research accomplishments and interests.

Students Wishing To Repeat the Advanced Camp
We encourage previous advanced campers to reapply for the Advanced Camp in year 2017. Since many qualified students are expected to apply for the first time, it is likely that no more than two repeating campers can be admitted. Each year's Advanced Camp has a different theme for daily activities, but the main focus at night will still be the research projects conducted by teams of students using the equipment in our collection.

Students wishing to reapply must write an observing proposal, similar to, but more detailed than, the proposals they wrote during a previous Advanced Camp. Based on your experience with our instruments, you should be able to describe a new project which you and other students could conduct together during the one week camp. This summer we plan to use the 12-meter and SMT radio telescopes of the Arizona Radio Observatory as well as CCD electronic cameras and a spectrometer on the 12, 24, and 32-inch telescopes on Mt. Lemmon and the Steward Observatory 61-inch telescope. Please feel free to ask us for information about the telescopes and for guidance in general. To be successful, you do not have to solve any modern mysteries of the Universe, just propose something which interests you, utilizes our equipment, and would interest other students. Your project may be a challenging one but it must be realistic. You must include the following in your proposal:
  1. Title
  2. Abstract
    • A concise paragraph summarizing your goals.
  3. Scientific Description
    • Why is this project interesting and what do you hope to learn from the observations?
    • Be sure to list some published references to provide scientific context for your proposal and cite any articles etc. you have used in preparing your proposal.
  4. Scientific Method
    • How will you obtain and analyze your data?
    • What telescopes and instruments do you require?
    • How much observing time is necessary?
  5. Team Management
    • As the leader of your project:
    • How will you involve other students in the observing, analysis, and presentation aspects of this project?
    • How will you deal with the fact that these students may not understand anything about your topic but are eager to learn and participate?
    • How will you interact with your colleagues to encourage, teach, and manage them during the week-long camp?
You can read about Astronomy Camp's telescopes and facilities. Please contact Dr. McCarthy with any questions.
  • Possible Reference Sources
    • Astronomy
    • Sky & Telescope
    • Mercury
    • The Planetary Report
    • Scientific American
    Astronomy texts:
    • Universe, W. J. Kaufmann III, 1994, 4th edition (W.H. Freeman and Co., NY)
    • Astronomy: The Evolving Universe, M. Zeilik, 1994, 7th edition, Wiley & Sons, Inc., NY)
    • The Cosmic Perspective, Bennett, J., Donahue, M., Voit, M., and Schneider, N.
    • Burnham's Celestial Handbook , R. Burnham, 1978, (Dover Publ.: New York).
    • The Cambridge Atlas of Astronomy, J. Audouze & G. Israel, 1994, (Cambridge Univ. Press).
    Internet sites: