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Astronomy Camp 2022 Sunrise .png

The 2022 Astronomy Camp crew at sunrise after an all-night astronomy session

Astronomy Camp at Malheur Field Station

Astronomy Camp 2022 was a huge success. 

I was unable to lead Astronomy Camp 2023 and will probably not be available for 2024. I am happy to hand this project off to an interested and quaified person or agency. Contact me for more information.

This project needs a donor. If you or someone you know manages a foundation or otherwise awards grants to worth projects, please contact me.

The information below is from the 2022 camp.


Use the menu below to navigate this page.


  1. Basics

  2. To Apply

  3. Faculty Biographies and Project Descriptions

  4. Packing List

  5. Food

  6. Required Forms

  7. Itinerary

  8. Power, WiFi, and other notes about MFS

  9. Research Group Members

  10. Pre-trip Meeting

  11. Highlights of Camp



What: Astronomy Camp

Where: Malheur Field Station in southeast Oregon

Who: Mature youth ages 15 - 19 with a strong interest in astronomy who want to do authentic research-based astronomy

When: Sunday, June 19 - Friday, June 24

Fee: $750, includes transportation to and from Portland*, dormitory lodging, all food, instruction with experienced mentors in small groups of 2 - 4 students. A limited number of partial scholarships are available.

* Students from outside the Portland area are welcome! We will work out the transportation and adjust the fee.

Click here for a slide presentation.

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To Apply

  1. Send me an email and let me know that you are interested. Use my personal email address: Copy at least one parent on the message.

  2. This event is for mature students who I can trust. I reserve the right to select who can participate. For students I do not know personally I will need a reference.

  3. This event is limited to 12 youth.

  4. Applications are on a rolling basis. If you are seriously interested you should act promptly.

  5. This event is not associated with IBWHS or PPS. It is sponsored by Coriolis, the educational business of Joe Minato.


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Faculty Biographies and Project Descriptions

Joe Minato, Camp Director


Joe is a 1984 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in physics. He studied astrophysics as a graduate student before dedicating his career to teaching science, which he has been doing for 30 some years. He owns Coriolis, a small business with the tagline, “Adventures in Education and Educational Adventures.” Leading summer astronomy is one of the highlights of his year.


Mike Reitmajer, Mentor


Mike graduated from Oregon State University in 2009 and currently works as an engineer at Intel in Hillsboro. His first brush with astronomy was during an outreach event from Pine Mountain Observatory at his elementary school in rural Oregon in the late 1990s. After a few false starts, he bought his first Dobsonian in 2016 and built his own 16" Dob less than four years later. He is currently a member of the Rose City Astronomers outreach team, and more than halfway to completing the Astronomical League's Master Observer program.

Project Description: Mike will run a mini-course titled, "Fundamentals of Visual Observing." Mike will train students to plan observing sessions, to use a manual Dobsonian telescope to find a wide variety of objects, to properly log observations, and to complete Astronomical League Observing Programs. Mike's students will exclusively use their eyes, as opposed to cameras, to observe the cosmos. Malheur Field Station is one of the darkest sites in Oregon and is ideally suited to this adventure.

Mike has this Google Doc with his plan for the camp.

Ken Hose, Mentor


Ken is a retired electronics engineer and a UC Berkeley alumnus. He has been both a visual observer (14” Starmaster DOB) and an astro-imager. Ken’s main interest has been in photometry from his home observatory. As a visual observer, he completed several Astronomical League observing programs and built his own 8” telescope, including grinding the mirror. He is also the Membership VP for Rose City Astronomers. Ken has been a mentor for many previous Astronomy Camps and enjoys working with students. He also hosts students at his home observatory for various astronomy projects.


Project Description: "Authentic Science using Astronomical Photometery,"including one one or more of the following projects:​

  • Measuring exoplanet transits

  • Searching for variable stars in random star fields

  • Measuring variable star light curves​

  • Exploring star clusters

    • Finding RR Lyrae variables in M3

    • Creating color-magnitude diagrams

    • Determining distance to a star cluster

    • Measuring age of a star cluster

  • Spectroscopy

    • Comparing spectra of stars from each main spectral class

    • Measuring the equatorial rotation velocity Jupiter/Saturn

Ken suggests that students read this document before the trip.

Mike McKeag, Mentor


Following a degree in physics (minor in philosophy) from the University of Washington (1969), Mike pursued a decidedly nonlinear career path that included working as a photographer and exhibit designer at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, as an instrumentation specialist in a cardiology physiology lab in the Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington, founding and running a construction company, Dovetail Construction, Inc. in Portland, OR, and finally settling down for three decades at Intel Corporation where he worked in semiconductor process development as an electron microscopist. Since retiring in 2013 he has pursued no doubt too many interests, including science education, creating and teaching classes in a variety of subjects, including electron microscopy, for Saturday Academy. More recently he co-founded and serves as director and board member of IDA Oregon, the Oregon chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. 

Project Description: "Nighttime Landscape Photography for Art, Science and Advocacy"


Digital photography has made nighttime photography an accessible and popular pursuit. It can be a powerful means for both artistic expression and scientific investigation. We will explore both aspects in detail. We will begin with using a handheld DSLR camera, then a DSLR on a fixed tripod, then on a tracking mount. We will also investigate light pollution and efforts to preserve the dark sky using art and science.

Note: It is ideal if students have their own DSLR camera. This way they will learn how to use it and can continue night sky photography on their own. However, we can loan a camera for students wh do not have access to one.

Michael and the students had a pre-trip meeting to discuss the week.


Curtis Tsai, Mentor


Curtis has three degrees from MIT: Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D., all in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  For the past 30 years he has worked in the semiconductor industry developing silicon process technology to execute Moore’s law of scaling.  For the last 18 years he has been with Intel and is managing the development of leading-edge silicon technology for microprocessors and systems-on-chips.


His interest in astronomy began in the 1970’s with a department store telescope, which he still owns, to view the planets of Jupiter and rings of Saturn.  Fast forward to 2010, he rekindled his interest by discovering astro-imaging with digital cameras. He enjoys the technical challenges of integrating optics, cameras, focusers, hardware, computer control/automation, and image processing.  Most of his astro-imaging experience has been focused on making “pretty pictures” but recently he has dabbled in exoplanet transit detection.  C Tsai | Flickr


Maxwell Tsai, Mentor


Maxwell will be a high school senior at the Oregon Episcopal School this fall.  He is interested in studying STEM-related fields in college.  As a sophomore, his science fair project placed first in category, top 5 at his high school, and represented OES at the NWSE regional and ISEF international science fairs.  As a junior, his science fair project on exoplanet transit detection placed first in category at his high school and will be presented at NWSE.  Maxwell is also an accomplished pianist, competes on the varsity tennis team, and enjoys auto-cross. 

Curtis and Maxwell are a The Father/Son Team who will work together.


Project Description: "Exoplanet transits"

In the last 25 years several thousand exoplanets have been disovered. This group will choose one exoplanet, observe it transiting (passing in front of) its host star, measuring the dip in brightness caused by this transit, and calculate important orbital parameters of the system such as the orbital radius and size of the exoplanet. 

Curtis has prepped two laptops with appropriate software for the students in his group.


If students want to use their own laptops for exoplanet data reduction, follow the first link for HOPS install instructions.  The HOPS install instructions will install Anaconda, a Python distribution.


Additional resources including data to verify the installation are in the Google drive link.

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Packing List

Group Supplies

We are staying in a dorm at Malheur Field Station. Each participant will get a bed, but no bedding. There is a group kitchen will all cooking and dining supplies.

I will provide a good first aid kit. I am certified and experienced in camping first aid.

Individual Supplies


Essential Individual Supplies

  • Sleeping bag

  • Pillow

  • Towel

  • Sleep mask. We will all need to sleep during the day. A simple sleep mask can be a great thing.

  • Ear plugs. See above.

  • Appropriate clothing

  • It can be very hot during the day and very cold at night. A warm winter jacket, warm hat, and gloves are essential.

  • Journal

  • Red flashlight (no white lights allowed)

  • Book(s) to read

  • Small, simple games to play

  • Sunscreen

  • Toothbrush/paste

  • Water bottle

  • Any medical needs or comfort items

  • Mosquito repellent; head net; itch cream


Optional Individual Supplies

  • Binoculars; strongly recommended for bird watching

Supplies Required for Projects

For the most part mentors will provide everything participants need for the projects. There are a few exceptions:

  • At least one participant in each research group will need a Windows 10 laptop. If you are a PPS student, we can borrow a laptop for you to use. 

  • Not everyone needs a laptop, but it is not a bad idea. If you have a laptop you can bring, do so.

  • Students in Mike's McKeag's Night Sky Photography group will each need a DSLR camera and a laptop with LightRoom and Photoshop. If you are a PPS student, we can borrow a laptop with this software for you to use. If you are not a PPS student and are in this group, let me know. We can likely borrow what we need from your school district.

  • A spiral notebook, pen, and pencil are recommended.

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  • Coriolis will provide all food except:

    • Bring a sack lunch for Sunday

    • Bring a few favorite snacks if you wish

  • We will have a cook, however students will pitch in with food prep and clean-up

  • Make sure you fill out the survey which includes a place to list food allergies, food preferences, medical needs, and other information.

  • Here is the menu from a past year. Feel free to comment on it.

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Required Forms

Read the Student Agreement. When you have done this, complete the Student Agreement Form.

Parents: Read the Student Agreement. When you have done this, complete the Parent Agreement Form.

Students and Parents together: Complete the Medical Information Form.

Students complete the Project Preference Form.

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Here is a very basic itinerary and outline of what the week will look like. We try to play it by ear depending on weather and other factors:

Sunday, June 19

8 am Participants meet at Minato house in Multnomah Village

9 am Participants depart for Malheur Field Station in rented vans

5 pm Arrive  Malheur Field Station

6 pm Dinner

7 pm First Meeting: Mentors will introduce themselves and their projects

9 pm Prepare for first night observing: Learning to use equipment

Observe as long as it is productive usually sometime between 1 am - 3 am

Monday, June 20

Whenever: Wake and have cold breakfast and pack sack lunch

Noon or so: Each research group meets to review the data from the previous night, analyze the data, and plan tonight's observing

Afternoon: Some rest time

6 pm Dinner

7 pm Second Meeting: Mentors will teach astronomy lessons

9 pm Prepare for second night observing: Gathering data

Observe as long as it is productive usually sometime between 1 am - 3 am

Tuesday, June 21

Whenever: Wake and have cold breakfast and pack sack lunch

Noon or so: Each research group meets to review the data from the previous night, analyze the data, plan tonight's observing; prepare their research proposal

Afternoon: Some rest time

6 pm Dinner

7 pm Third Meeting: Student groups present and discuss research proposals

9 pm Prepare for third night observing: Gathering data

Observe as long as it is productive usually sometime between 1 am - 3 am

Wednesday, June 22

Whenever: Wake and have cold breakfast and pack sack lunch

Noon or so: Each research group meets to review the data from the previous night, analyze the data, and plan tonight's observing

Afternoon: Some rest time

6 pm Dinner

7 pm Fourth Meeting: TBA

9 pm Prepare for fourth and last night observing: Gathering data

Observe as long as it is productive usually sometime between 1 am - 3 am

Thursday, June 23

Whenever: Wake and have cold breakfast and pack sack lunch

Noon or so: Students present their projects to the group

Afternoon: Most mentors depart; Students explore the National Wildlife Refuge

6 pm Dinner

After dinner until dark: Some fun and easy student activity

10 pm - ? Recreational astronomy

Friday, June 24

Wake by 8 am

Pack up and depart by 9 am

Arrive back at Minato house by 5 pm

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Power, Wifi, and other notes about MFS

Where to set up telescopes


There is no specific observing field. It is possible to set up in any of the open spaces between buildings or beyond the buildings at MFS.




If power is needed you can run long extension cords. Mentors should bring appropriate extension cords. For maximum flexibility in selecting setup location, come prepare with battery power. Charging can be done off mains. Lots of options for where to plug in charger.



WiFi is available only near the office. It is not very fast! There is a building across the road, southeast of the office, with a large screened porch with picnic tables, a favored location for hanging out and connecting to WiFi.

Mobile Phone Coverage

Verizon works best. ATT works. Others are unknown at this time.

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Research Groups

The research groups are established. Click here.

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Pre-trip Meeting

We will have a pre-trip Zoom meeting for mentors on Tuesday, June 14, 7:00 pm. I will send the Zoom link a few minutes early.

We will have a pre-trip Zoom meeting for students and chaperones on Wednesday, June 15, 7:00 pm. I will send the Zoom link a few minutes early.Here is the agenda.

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Stay tuned for highlights of camp

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Anchor 1
Packing List
Requied Forms
To Apply
Reseach Groups
Pre-trip Meeitng
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