The International Astronomical Youth Camp (IAYC) is a three-week long summer camp aiming to promote knowledge of astronomy and astronomy related sciences in a unique international atmosphere. Every year the IAYC takes place somewhere in Europe. About seventy people from a wide range of different countries live together for three weeks. Participants are between 16 and 24 years old and share a common interest: Astronomy.
The IAYC is different from most other astronomical camps for two reasons: the international character and the fact that you will have the chance to carry out your own small research project. You will not just accept facts, but you will discover them yourself or working together with other people. The IAYC is therefore not like staying in a hotel and attending a summer school.
Every participant, with his or her own cultural background, forms an integral piece in the complex puzzle that is camp life. Therefore the success of the camp will also depend on your contribution!
To participate in the IAYC you must be between 16 and 24 years old. As all the participants come from many different countries, English is the camp language. Therefore you will need to speak English not only during working group activities and the non-astronomical programme, but throughout the entire camp. The aim of this is also to encourage people from different countries or language groups to spend their time together. The IAYC offers you a great opportunity to make friends from lots of different countries. You should not worry though. Your English does not need to be perfect, however, you should be able to have a normal conversation without a dictionary.
The IAYC is an astronomy camp, therefore you should obviously be interested in science and astronomy. You should also be willing to carry out a small research project on your own, though of course your leader will always be there to support and help you.
What is life at an IAYC like? - The IAYC Experience
An IAYC day starts with breakfast at noon (12:00), which should allow you to get enough sleep after a long night out on the observation field. After breakfast, the first of two daily working group sessions starts at one o’clock (13:00). The first working group session lasts for two and a half hours and the second one for two.
After the first working group session you have free time where you can participate in sports activities and workshops that are organised by other participants. If you feel like organising something yourself with other participants, that’s great, go for it! Free time ends with lunch at half past five (17.30) in the afternoon.
Doing nothing else but astronomy for three weeks would be too much. To loosen things up a bit we have the Non-Astronomical Programme (NAP) after lunch every day. The NAP is compulsory anything-but-astronomy time where activities are organised for the entire camp. The NAP leader will explain more about this in the “Working Group” section of the First Info (available under “Next Camp” in December).
After NAP, at ten o’clock in the evening, the second working group session takes place. The final scheduled event of the day is a light meal served at midnight. After this, if the sky is clear, it’s time to join the fun outside on the observation field and do what everyone at this camp loves to do: Observe!
|11:30||Waking up service|
|13:00 - 15:30||First working group session|
|22:00 - 24:00||Second working group session|
|-||Free time / Observations|
Although most days during the camp are like the one described above, there are a few special days. The first Thursday of the camp is reserved completely for a special programme: the Excursion Day. The Second Thursday will be Free Day which you can spend any way you want. Go on a trip with some IAYC friends, catch up on some sleep, go hiking or swimming etc.
During working group sessions, you will work on the project of your choice. Every working group is based on a different topic and has between seven and nine participants plus a leader, who is responsible for the group. Collaboration between participants is encouraged as projects aren’t usually carried out alone.
You and your project partners will work independently on your project. This means you will read up on the topic by yourselves, explain things to each other, carry out necessary observations, calculations, measurements etc… In short, you should not expect a school-like environment where a teacher provides all the information and tells you what to do. But don’t worry, even though you’re working on your own your leader will still always be there to help if you get stuck.
Every working group will offer projects at all levels, from high school to university level research topics. At the end of the camp you are expected to write a report documenting your project. Everybody’s reports will be collected and compiled into a report book, which will be sent to you after the camp. The report book will enable you to find out more about the other projects that were done at the camp.
Usually a field just a few minutes’ walk away from the camp house is used as an observation field. We always try to find places with low light pollution and a wide view of the sky.
You can either observe during working group time as part of your project or join the crowd outside after midnight meal when we get out the telescopes for everyone. Catch a glimpse of a celestial object through a telescope or lie down in your sleeping bag and enjoy the view.
If you don’t have any experience observing that won’t be a problem either. You can learn from the leaders and other participants who are always happy to explain things to you. No matter if it is about constellations, how to use a telescope or how to take astro-pictures.
At the beginning of the camp we will also offer a telescope introduction which should help you get a feeling for the basics of how to handle a telescope on your own.
Furthermore there will also be a Dark Room available at the camp. As far as astro-pictures are concerned this means you will have the possibility to take analogue pictures and develop them yourself in the Dark Room.
You are most welcome to bring your own telescope or binoculars. The IAYC also provides several telescopes which are suitable for observing and the taking of astro-pictures. There will also be a CCD available to use with the telescopes. If you want to know more about our equipment, please check out our equipment page or contact Dan or Alex.
If you want to know more about the IAYC, or if you want to participate in next year’s camp, then email us at email@example.com.