Basic Details


What: Pine Mountain Observatory Summer Program. Sponsored by Pine Mountain Observatory.

Where: Pine Mountain Observatory is owned and operated by the University of Oregon. It is located about an hour east of Bend, Oregon.

Who: The program is being coordinated this year by Ken Hose, a long-time member of the Rose City Astronomers. Other high school teachers like me each bring a handful of eager students who take part in research projects led by the astronomers. Ken recruits other experienced amateur astronomers to act as mentors.

Joe Minato is leading the Wilson group and is the author of this web site. When it says “me,” it means Joe.

I hope to bring 6 - 8 students from Wilson High School. I give preference to rising seniors (class of 2020), but I also extend invitations to members of the class of 2019 who wanted to go last year but could not attend.

Our passenger van driver, head camp cook, and second chaperone is my sister, Dena Minato. Dena is, among other things, a retired high school English teacher, mother and grandmother, experienced camper, and lover of the natural world.

When: Sunday, June 23, 10 am - Friday, Jun 28, 5 pm. We will depart from the Minato House, 3525 SW Logan Street, Portland OR 97219. We will depart Portland by 11 am. 

Why: The primary objective of the program is to give high school students the opportunity to participate in authentic astronomical research projects.

How: We will use a WHS athletic vans, driven by Joe and drive from Portland to the observatory. Next to the observatory is a primitive US Forest Service campground. There is no water, electricity, trash pick-up, or other services at the campsite. We will bring what we need and pack out our trash. We will also rent a cargo van for all of our gear. Dena will also act as cargo van driver.

Cost: There is a $250 fee to participate. (Tentative: I will firm this up soon!) It includes transportation, most food, adult supervision, and education. No student should hesitate because of the fee. Scholarships are available, just contact me. Most weeklong camps cost $500 - $1000. Families who can easily afford the $250 fee are welcome and encouraged to donate to the WHS Astronomy Club and/or the WHS AP Physics fund. 

Don’t do the following yet: To pay the fee, go to SchoolPay or deliver a check to Ana Curtis, WHS Bookkeeper, in the main office. Login to SchoolPay and scroll down to “Astronomy Camp 2019.” This tab will allow you to pay only the $250 fee. The main office is open Monday - Friday, 7:30 am - 3:30 pm. Whether or not Ana is in, you can drop off a check for her, just make sure it is clear what the check is for. Make checks payable to “Wilson High School” and clarify the specific purpose in the “For” field. Please do this by May 15, if possible.

To make optional donations, go to SchoolPay and scroll down to WHS Astronomy Club or WHS AP Physics Fund. Anyone can donate any amount of money through these links.

Other Details

Safety: Safety is, of course, of utmost importance. We will go over safety considerations at the pre-trip meeting. Joe is certified in first aid and CPR, and is experienced with camping safety and first aid.

Camping gear: I will provide a group camping kitchen. Each individual needs to provide a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, appropriate clothing, and a mess kit. Here is a detailed packing list.

Fun: I like to camp, I like to do astronomy, and I like to have fun! This is a serious, academic camp, but we will have a good time!

Food: Our group is going to do shared food. The last night is a dinner potluck with the entire group of astronomers and all of the schools.

Water: There is no water at the site. We need to bring all of our own water. I have five-gallon jugs that we will fill with of potable water before leaving Portland.

Showers: Each person will be allowed one shower in the observers' dorm at some point during the week.

Mobile Phone: There is questionable mobile phone coverage on the mountain.

Laptops and Wifi: There is Wifi at the observatory, but not in the campground. Students who have a laptop are welcome and encouraged to bring it.

Quiet Hours: We will be up late, but we need to be reasonably quiet after 10 pm. We also need to be quiet before noon. 

Research Groups: Each astronomer will have a group of two or three students. One of the first things we will do on Sunday afternoon is divide up into research groups.

General Schedule: We will be observing at night, doing data analysis in the afternoon, with group meetings in the late afternoon or early evening. There will be group meetings on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday which will cover background information. On Wednesday and Thursday groups will be giving presentations on their research.

Bend Restock: If we want and need to, we can take a trip into Bend in the middle of the trip. It is about an hour each way. We can shower at a campground, refill water, restock food, etc.


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© Joseph Minato 2019