Milkyway Trailblazers

Presented by PARI and Clemson University
Mission: Galactic Cartography - Map the Milky Way and plot a path

Milky Way Trailblazers is a two week research experience for high school aged campers.  

Campers will learn to use a radio telescope to find the composition of a region of the Milky Way and measure the speed it is rotating and moving. They will combine the observations and conclusions made by their team with other teams to form a larger understanding of the galaxy we call home.

Using a radio telescope to measure regions of space doesn’t create pictures like we see with an optical telescope.  The methods to turn the data collected into a map that can guide our way require creativity and hard work.  Will the results look the same, or different, than what we see through an optical telescope?

Radio isn’t just used for observing space either.  Communicating with satellites is a big role that large dishes like the ones at PARI play in human space exploration.  Campers will investigate and report on the methods, both historical and contemporary, that are used to accomplish this, and the people who figured out how to do it.

Learn more about the camp and curriculum.

Dates & Pricing

June 9, 2024 – June 20, 2024
$50 registration fee

Payment plans available.

Scholarships may be available for families with financial need.

Age Groups

For Rising
9th-12th Graders

Quick Links

Communicating with things deep in space is hard. What techniques do you think would be most interesting to understand.

  • Finding the fastest way to send data from space to anywhere on Earth? 🛰️
  • Investigating how much power it would take to get a message to another star system? 🪐
  • Ensuring reliability with robust systems that work under any circumstances? ✔️

Camp Description

  • Investigate the composition and motion of our galaxy with giant radio telescopes.
  • Identify areas of interest, blaze a trail for future explorers.
  • Learn how data maps and diagrams are made of distant regions of space that cannot be seen with a regular telescope.
  • With your research team, study qualities of your chosen region, and collaborate with other teams to form a complete picture.
  • Conduct individual research on how light is used to communicate with distant missions in the past, and present.  Propose our own techniques for the future.
  • Campers will use radio telescopes dishes built by NASA to collect data that will reveal what the Milky Way is made of, and how it is moving.
  • Be immersed in a site that was instrumental to the pioneering of many satellite technologies.
  • Learn from guest speakers who share their experiences working in space science, and their paths to a career of exploration and discovery.
  • PARI’s emphasis on community and teamwork enables campers to establish friendships that last a lifetime.  Many campers from this program return as interns and counselors.
  • Campers will participate in fun and engaging recreational activities built to encourage social comradery and confidence while exploring the spectacular Pisgah Forest and Blue Ridge Mountain region.

Surrounded by natural beauty in a forest perfect for adventure

PARI embraces our unique location with plenty of time outside of the classroom too.

Field Trips & Activities

  • Hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest to take in amazing views.
  • Visit dramatic cascades in PARI’s home in The Land of Waterfalls, then go swimming or tubing nearby.
  • Take a break with the best ice cream around at one of our favorite ice cream shops or spend an afternoon at an arcade or roller-skating.
  • Toast marshmallows, make s’mores, tell stories, listen to music, and be dazzled by the atmosphere around our giant camp fire.
  • Compete in challenges to build the most powerful rocket or a lander that can withstand whatever it’s thrown at.
  • Design spacey t-shirts.
  • Search for the answers hidden around you in our camp long scavenger hunt.
  • Unwind in the rec room with board games, puzzles, pool-table, ping-pong, foosball, and air-hockey, or kick back and relax.
  • Master our signature game, PARI Ball

What portion of the Milky Way would you want to study with a radio telescope?

  • The dense and hot center, where a black hole might be found.🕳️
  • A complex region of a spiral arm that could host another solar system like our own. 🌞
  • A dense nebula where new stars are being born. 🎂

Academic Curriculum

  • Learn how to identify substances in space, like cold clouds of gas, that cannot be seen with an optical telescope.
  • Measure the quantities of material present by comparing with well known regions and calibration sources.
  • Explore structures in the spiral arms of the Milky Way and hunt for things that seem unusual.
  • Learn to use radio telescopes and antennas and work with the data they collect.
  • Determine the velocities of distant objects of space by measuring their Doppler Shift.
  • Analyze patterns and methods used to encode information in light to communicate with satellites in space.
  • Explore the history of satellite communications.
  • Collaborate with others to combine your data and add depth to your understanding of a region of space.
  • Crack the codes created by others.
  • Study the ways information is turned into images to make maps and diagrams.
  • Develop teamwork skills by collaborating with others while attempting to solve complex problems.

Register for Milky Way Trailblazers Camp
Presented by PARI and Clemson University

Get ready for camp with out of this world PARI accessories

Each pattern is available on a huge variety of items.  Click one to see everything you can choose from!