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9 Best Astronomy Summer Camps 2024

Astronomy Summer Camps

If you have a space and star-obsessed student, an astronomy summer camp might be just perfect for them. While some of these programs are very intensive and specialized, others allow students to explore all assets of STEM and space-related sciences specifically while also having a lot of fun and meeting other like-minded campers. 

These camps are spread out across the United States and even other countries. You will find them held at amazing facilities like the Kennedy Space Center or on university campuses. They allow campers to make use of state-of-the-art facilities and top-level staff, all of which will blow their mind.

PARI STEM and Space Exploration Camps

The PARI STEM and Space Camp is a wonderful opportunity for young campers to explore their curiosity about outer space. This residential camp is open to students in grades 6th through 12th. Certain weeks combine all ages while others separate middle schoolers from high schoolers. 

Accommodations for the camp are dormitory-style buildings where each room is designated to a group of campers based on age and gender. Three meals along with snacks are served daily, and most dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

Throughout their stay, your camper will explore space using a telescope, dive into scientific research, and carry out science experiments. Some weeks are more academically focused than others. 

There is also time spent outside the classroom, letting kids explore their beautiful campus. PARI camp is located in the beautiful countryside of North Carolina, just northwest of Greenville. 

AstroCamp

AstroCamp is located in the stunning foothills of Mount San Jacinto in southern California. It’s open to students ages 8-17 and makes for an ideal summer experience for kids interested in science and space. 

There’s an amazing array of activities and experiences campers will have during their time at AstroCamp. They can play around with rockets, conduct experiments to learn about pressure and temperature, or study electricity and magnetism. 

Outside of the classroom, campers get the opportunity to get physical, explore the ropes course along with a zipline, or go on a hike through the surrounding mountains. There is also 3D printing, loads of games, and so much more. 

One-week sessions are offered to ages 8-13, and two-week sessions are open for ages 12-17. Kids stay in dorm rooms with 4-6 campers each. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily, with vegetarian options. 

NASA Internship Programms

What better way to learn about astronomy than to get into one of NASA’s internship programs. These internships are open to high school students and those already enrolled in higher education. To apply, all applicants must be at least 16 years old. 

The programs are highly competitive, with only around 2,000 spots offered country-wide. However, it is a clear path to a career in astronomy or even one with NASA. Applications are made into a central pool with the possibility of being placed into centers around the country.

These programs are paid with a stipend, and students just need to find their own housing and transportation. Three periods are open each year: spring, summer, and fall. Spring and fall are 16-week periods while a summer internship typically runs for 10 weeks. 

Focuses are varied and include engineering, math & statistics, along with business-focused fields like accounting or human resources. Fellowships are also available for college students. 

U.S. Space & Rocket Center Space Camp

If your child dreams of being an astronaut but still doesn’t quite meet the age or height requirements, Space Camp is the perfect opportunity for them. This camp is open to students ages 9+. 

Camps are divided and 9-11 year olds go into Space Camp while 12-14 year olds join Space Academy and older teenagers become part of Advanced Space Academy. 

Each of the programs is a week-long, and campers stay in dormitory-style rooms which are separated by gender. Camps are held at the Museum of Space History in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Activities offered to campers mimic the training NASA astronauts go through. They will have a chance to try out the 1/6th Gravity Chair, build model rockets, launch a simulated mission to the ISS while learning what life is like on board, and loads more. 

The Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics

For rising high school seniors interested in astronomy and physics, the Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics (YSPA) is the perfect opportunity to challenge themselves. As children begin to embark on higher education and start to think about a career in scientific research, this is the perfect place for them to have a university-like experience. 

The program runs for six weeks with the first two online followed by four at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium (LFOP) at Yale. 

The entire program culminates in a mini-conference where all the young scientists get to present the findings of their studies, experiments, and research they conducted over their stay. 

The residential program is intensive, but can also be fun for students. It’s a summer course, professional internship, and summer camp all wrapped up into one. There are courses revolving around space with classes on astronomy and astrophysics. 

REACH By Northwestern University

Hosted at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, REACH (Research Experiences in Astronomy at CIERA for High School Students) is geared towards students interested in a future career in astronomy.

The program supports students while they engage in research projects alongside professional astronomers. New topics are always being added, but some previous ones include “How Can You Extract Energy from Black Holes?” and “The Velocities of Stars in the Milky Way”. 

Throughout the course, students learn research skills, including how to code in the Python programming language.

Each REACH session lasts for three weeks with the option to add on additional time for students to focus on an individual research project. 

Space Trek

Space Trek camps are run at the Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida. The center is located about 50 miles east of Orlando. 

Camps offered are three, four, or five days in length, with each one focusing on a specific topic and task. Three-day camps are for Mission Robotics or Rocketry, four-day camps are for Near Space Investigation, and five day camps are for Robotics & Rocketry. 

Students 7-16 have the chance to 3D print, launch a weather balloon, collect and analyze data, and carry out experiments and research. Each of the camps focuses on different topics including astronomy and meteorology. 

Students will also get to tour the Kennedy Space Center and meet and talk to NASA astronauts. Days run from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and include lunch.

Astronomy Camp

Set beneath the dark night sky of southern Arizona, Astronomy Camp is the perfect spot for your astronomy-obsessed camper. The residential program is run from Mount Lemmon Observatory in the vast canyons northeast of Tucson.

Camps are offered for students ages 12-19, divided into two age groups, as well as an alternative option for adults. Campers will carry out hands-on experiments and activities such as measuring solar activity or hiking a scale model of the solar system.

The schedule here is quite different as a lot of the schedule takes place overnight when the sky is dark. This means campers will often have activities until midnight and then have the option most nights to wake up around 3 am to observe the sky again. It’s a great choice for young night owls.

Kopernik Observatory & Science Center

Located in the countryside of upstate New York, just outside of Binghamton, Kopernik Observatory & Science Center offers summer camps to students rising into grades 2-12. 

Each session runs for one week and gives kids hands-on learning opportunities in STEM. The day camps run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The camp weeks are divided by grade with each session welcoming kids to classes about science, engineering, and space.   

The youngest campers can expect activities like creating erupting volcanoes and learning how to use a telescope. The oldest group of students will create and launch a weather balloon and have opportunities to study our solar system.

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