People: Courtney Lemon
Courtney Lemon and Dr. McCarthy

Courtney with the Director of Astronomy Camp, Dr. Don McCarthy


Courtney is a physics major who wanted to be involved in education and public outreach as part of the CAMPARE program. She spent the summer of 2010 as a counselor at the University of Arizona's Astronomy Camp. While there she worked with groups of all different ages helping them learn the wonders of real astronomy with real telescopes. The following summer she was a Mather intern with the Society of Physics Students summer internship program, working in the Washington, D.C. office of Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey. She is currently applying to Ph.D. programs in physics and hopes to work in science policy some day. This is her story.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Don McCarthy of the University of Arizona, where I basically spent a month up on Mt. Lemmon, Kitt Peak, Mt. Graham, and more. My focus was primarily on Astronomy Outreach, and I worked with incredible groups of teens who came and spent a week with us. Although I was a total newbie when I arrived in Tucson, Don trained me well in the ways of operating telescopes, opening and closing telescope domes, mounting eye-pieces, finding (and instructing others on how to find) objects in the night sky, and explaining the concepts of astronomy to middle and high school students.

Astronomy Camp camper

An Astronomy Camp camper works with a simple spectroscope to learn about how the composition of stars can be studied.

I discovered that my true passion really does lie with working and extending outreach to students. Those long hours spent at multiple telescopes were such an eye-opening experience. The chance to see those kids grow and absorb all of the knowledge that Don was imparting on them was amazing. I’m so grateful that I had the ability to witness all of this and learn, not only about astronomy, but also about myself.

Beginning Teen Camp campers

Students from the Beginning Teen Camp. Courtney is on the far left.


I watched the sun set, and rise, and each time, it opened the door to a whole new world of exploration.
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