Summer Camp

CCERA 2024 Radio Astronomy Summer Camp


The program will be run by the Canadian Centre for Experimental Radio Astronomy (CCERA) at its observatory in Carp, Ontario.

Participants in the program will use a 12.8 m radio telescope dish to observe the 21-cm radio waves that are emitted by the hydrogen gas that permeates the Milky Way. Data from the dish will be used to infer the existence of dark matter, a mysterious substance that accounts for much of the mass of the universe.


To conduct this program, participants will need to learn a lot of things along the way.   These include: i) the rudiments of astronomy and radio astronomy; ii) the microscopic origin of the 21-cm radiation; iii) concepts in software defined radio; iv) spectral analysis; and v) how to analyze, plot, and interpret scientific data.   Data analysis will be done using the Python programming language. No prior knowledge of Python will be assumed, but participants should be willing and able to learn as they go. Those completing the course will acquire an ability to analyze and visually display data in ways that tell a story, a skill that will prove useful in many contexts.

Format & Schedule

Participants will meet five days a week (M-F from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM) over a two-week period.  Session activities will include seminars led by an experienced instructional staff (see below), firsthand instruction on how to select astronomical targets and to operate the telescope, and sessions where participants work independently or in small groups to analyze data from the dish.    Participants who successfully complete the rotation curve exercise will be able to design and conduct observations on topics of their choosing.   Possible observations include observation of 21 cm signals from other galaxies, the observation of signals from radio pulsars, and a measurement of the Sun’s velocity relative to nearby stars.

The 2024 camp will start on Monday, July 22 and will end on Friday, August 2.

Instructional Staff

Participants will learn directly from a team of scientific and technical experts. The lead instructors will be CCERA President Marcus Leech, who is a well-known expert in radio astronomy and software defined radio, and Daniel Marlow, who is a CCERA member and a Professor of Physics at Princeton University.


The program is aimed college-aged participants, but highly motivated high school students are eligible to join.   The course will assume no prior knowledge in astronomy, although participants should have a solid grounding in algebra and trigonometry and should be open to picking up additional mathematical techniques as the program progresses. Calculus is not required, but participants should understand the basic concept of a function.

Potential participants who are not sure whether or not they have the prerequisite skills for the camp should feel free to contact us at to arrange for an interview.


The fee for the program will be $750. Participants should be in possession of a portable computer running Windows, MacOS, or a standard flavor of Linux. All software used on the course is open source and will be provided at no cost.


The camp will be held at the site of the dish in the CSS Building Observatory, 2336 Craig’s Side Road, Carp, Ontario

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Interested parties should contact to enroll in the camp and/or to obtain further information.