Astronomy High School Institute

Registration is now open!

This overnight summer Institute is designed for participants who love astronomy and want to learn more with others who share their passion.

Sunday, July 16 - Thursday, July 20th, 2023


Cost of Institute:
$1080 Residential; $790 Commuters. $100 deposit required.

The Program:
This co-ed, overnight summer Institute is designed for participants entering grades 11-12 who love astronomy and want to spend time learning more about this fascinating subject with others who share their passion.

When not in class, participants enjoy planned activities on campus as well as free time for relaxation. Living, dining and learning together provides participants ample opportunity to get to know each other and develop lasting friendships. The emphasis is on having fun and enjoying our beautiful natural surroundings while learning!

With our dynamic, engaging, talented and caring faculty, terrific facilities, and lovely campus, the Alfred University Astronomy Institute could make this your best summer ever!

The Faculty:
This popular program is directed and taught by the Alfred University Physics and Astronomy faculty, all recognized experts in their fields, plus by PhD-holding experts from other programs. Recent areas of expertise represented at the institute include variable stars, asteroids, solar activity, quantum and gravitational science, fluid dynamics, extra-solar planets and planetary science.

The program is conducted in the AU Science Center and at the Stull Observatory on the Alfred University Campus. This facility has been judged to be one of the best teaching observatories in the country, and is equipped with telescopes ranging from 8 to 32 inches in diameter as well as electronic detectors and support computers.

The number of participants is kept small (40) to allow for individualized attention and optimal use of the observatory's telescopes and other equipment.

Participants enjoy a mix of night and daytime activities involving extensive use of the observatory's telescopes and electronics. Sessions will cover topics such as:

  • Astronomical Basics - Sky motions, telescope construction and use, electronic imaging
  • Variable Star Photometry - measurements of fluctuations in brightness of stars undergoing violent processes
  • Asteroid Astrometry and Photometry - Measurement of the positions and motions of asteroids, including those which pass close to the Earth
  • Astronomical Imaging of Nebulae, Clusters and Galaxies
  • Observation and Analysis of Solar Activity
  • Imaging and Lunar/Solar System Studies
  • Lunar and Planetary Science
  • Asteroids
  • Solar Flares
  • Stellar Evolution
  • CCD Imaging
  • Galactic Structure
  • Special Relativity
  • Black Holes
  • Cosmology
  • Spectroscopy

Participants must arrive between 2:00 and 4:00 PM on Sunday for registration and will leave after lunch on Thursday. During the week they will attend classes during the day and have fun participating in planned recreational activities on and off campus in the evening.

Further information, including a detailed program schedule and driving directions to campus, will be sent to all students upon acceptance. Note: while the weather in Alfred in July is usually very good, we cannot guarantee clear skies and there will be no refunds due to weather conditions.

Institute Director:
Dr. David Toot, AU Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is the institute director. Questions about academic content may be directed to him.

Tuition, Room and Board:
$1080 ($790 for commuters) - $100 deposit required.

This covers tuition, supervision, materials, room and board from dinner on the first day through lunch on the last day and recreational activities. The deposit must be submitted with the application.

Financial Aid:
Financial aid is available for this institute. Learn more in the section below.

How to Apply:
To apply, you must complete and submit the online registration form (We support the current and previous major releases of Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari on a rolling basis.).

Camp Registration Portal (CampDoc)
CampDoc Registration Instructions

Along with the application, participants must also submit:

  • Deposit (paid on online application form)
  • A one-page essay telling us why you would like to attend (in your own words and signed)
  • ALSO - If you are applying for the scholarship (see above "Financial Aid), this essay must be received at the time of the application submission

Cancellation Policy:
Refunds, less the $100 non-refundable deposit, will be made for cancellations received by June 15th. 50% refunds will be made for cancellations received from June 16th through 24th. Sorry, no refunds can be issued after June 24th.

For further general information contact the Office of Summer Programs at 607-871-2122. For specific information concerning class content contact Dr. David Toot, Program Director, at 607-871-2208.

The Director will review all completed applications and determine which participants are accepted. Acceptance/non-acceptance notification will be provided via email. If you require an earlier decision, please indicate this by including a note with your application form. Applications will be considered as space allows.

Once participants are accepted they will be reminded by email from CampDocs to complete the required documents (parental permissions to attend as well as health records). Updated immunization information (including dates) is also required at that time. (If you do not have updated immunization information on hand, you may want to acquire this from your physician now to avoid processing delays.)

When students are not in class, they are supervised by our wonderful team of Counselors who are specially trained to serve as positive role models, mentors and friends. In order to ensure everyone has a safe, healthy and enjoyable time on campus, summer students are expected to abide by the University's summer programs rules and regulations.

Examples of Evening Activities:

  • Ice-breaker games on the first day to help everyone get acquainted
  • Movies in AU's Nevins Theater
  • Visits to a nearby lake for picnics and campfires
  • Outdoor games such as "Capture the Flag" and "Ultimate Frisbee"
  • Indoor games such as "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," ping pong, board games, basketball, etc.
  • Social gatherings with refreshments & music in the "Knight Club"
  • Relaxing and socializing at a local coffee house
  • Farewell party on the last night

Participants stay in secure University residence halls dedicated to summer institutes (2 per room) and must bring their own pillows and blankets. Bed/bath linens will be provided, but they can also bring their own (bed linens must fit the extra-long twin residence hall beds). Laundry facilities are available in each hall at no charge. Males and females are housed on separate floors. Our Counselors will be on-site in the residence halls at all times.


Delicious, all-you-can-eat, cafeteria-style meals are served in our campus dining hall. Our Dining Services chefs do an excellent job in accommodating participants with food allergies and other special requirements.

Participants living locally who wish to attend as commuters may do so. The commuter rate, which includes tuition, program materials and lunch is $790 (deposit: $100). Participants who wish to commute must check in at registration on Sunday and arrive on campus by 8:45 AM for classes Monday-Thursday. They must be picked up no later than 5:00 PM Monday-Wednesday unless they will be participating in evening activities (please make arrangements with the Summer Programs Coordinator for pick-up times). The last day of the institute (Thursday) pick-up time is 1:00 PM. Please be sure to check the "Commuter" box on the application form.

Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, a scholarship is being offered to an under-represented minority with a proven financial need. To apply, applicants must submit an additional one-page essay indicating how this scholarship will benefit them and showing financial need. PLEASE NOTE: The deposit will be refunded to the winner of the scholarship. Questions with regards to this new process can be directed to the Office of Summer Programs: 607-871-2122.

"Four stars and two thumbs up! My experience at Alfred's summer program is one not soon to be forgotten. It was a chance to meet intelligent, beautiful kids my age from around the country and build great friendships with them. It was a chance to work with fun professors who, after a couple of days, you consider to be friends, too. It was excellent service, great staff and a lot to learn. I recommend it to all of you!" - Neyshmi M., Lancaster, PA

"It was a great experience attending the institute this summer. I had a chance to learn more about astronomy and to meet people that don't live in the City. I loved having the opportunity to use the observatory's telescopes." - Carmen E., New York, NY

"I had an awesome time! I never knew Astronomy could be so interesting. I made friends that I am still keeping in touch with. I will definitely come back to Astronomy camp next year!!" - James W., Alden, NY

"I enjoyed attending the program this summer. It was great to live on campus with a group of interesting people. I was amazed at how much I learned in the time I was there. I will definitely come back again when I can." - John N., Ellicottville, NY

"I thoroughly enjoyed the program, and it was definitely worth coming all the way from New Zealand to attend. I found the observatory facilities were excellent. This and the terrific staff and other students made the program memorable." - Ben A., Christchurch, New Zealand

"I had a great time. I didn't want to leave!" - Emily W., Rocky Hill, CT

"Stargazing at night was incredible!" - Michelle G., Cortland Manor, NY

"I liked the friendship and respect everyone had for everyone else." - Dave C., East Rochester, NY

"I loved the observatory. The institute was located in a very beautiful location. Did I mention I LOVED the observatory?!" - Sneha R., Forest Hills, NY

"I really enjoyed using the telescopes as well as the various classes and lectures. I felt everything was wonderfully informative and very interesting. Everything together made for a most pleasant experience." - Sophie G., Hinckley, OH

"I loved learning how to use an observatory as a professional astronomer would." - Jezra B., Manchester, NH

"The institute helped me understand mysterious components of the Universe in an enjoyable way." - Betsy N., East Aurora, NY

"The program made my love for astronomy grow beyond what I had expected." - Katherine D., Nashua, NH

Alfred University is located in the peaceful village of Alfred in Western New York State, where summer days are warm and nights are cool and comfortable. Surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful meadows and valleys, Alfred University is the perfect place to spend an enjoyable week learning more about your favorite subject and meeting other students who share your passion for astronomy!

The campus, a 6-hour drive from New York City, 2 hours from Buffalo and 1 1/4 hours from Rochester, is easily accessible by car or bus from all directions and is located just five miles south of Interstate 86. The nearest major airport is the Rochester International Airport (about 65 miles north). Transportation to and from that airport can be provided for an additional charge if we receive your request by the date indicated in your acceptance notification. After that date students must make their own arrangements with an airport limo service.

The University may cancel any course or activity at any time because of insufficient enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. If a program is canceled or postponed, the University will refund registration fees, but cannot be held responsible for other costs, charges, or expenses, including cancellation/change charges assessed by airlines or travel agencies.

Whether considering candidates for admission or financial aid, applicants for employment or the management of its policies and school-administered programs, Alfred University does not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, or disability. Alfred University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.