CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research

International Cosmic Day 2014

Classroom Outreach Program
Advertisement picture for the International Cosmic Day 2014




Arne Schoenwald, Marge Bardeen


The purpose of this webpage is to inform about the International Cosmic Day 2014. On this day students world wide are able to analyze cosmic ray data and discuss about their results. The students are enabled to learn about astroparticle physics and to get an impression about the work and communication processes in physics.


The relatively young research field of astroparticle physics has been developing dynamically over the last years (see some experiments' webpages: ANTARES, Auger, BAIKAL, Fermi, H.E.S.S., IceCube, MAGICVERITAS ). It connects particle physics (describing the interactions of elementary particles) with astrophysics (describing up to the biggest structures in the universe) and with cosmology (studying the history of the universe). One of the very interesting topics in astroparticle physics is trying to understand the acceleration mechanisms of cosmic ray particles to very high energies, much higher than accelerators on Earth can reach.

The International Cosmic Day 2014 enables students to get in contact with astroparticle physicists to get a first insight into their research and experimental methods. Some basic questions which will be adressed are:

  • What are cosmic particles?
  • Where do they come from?
  • How can they be measured?

The 3rd International Cosmic Day on October 8, 2014 is organized by DESY, Fermilab, QuarkNet, and Netzwerk Teilchenwelt and will enable students in many different countries around the world to get to do their own experiments in nearby universities, research institutions or even in their classrooms. We invite students to

  • Perform your own cosmic particle experiment.
  • Analyze and present your data on a common website.
  • Compare your own results with the results of others.
  • Work like in an international research collaboration.
  • Get in contact with scientists and physics.

Who can participate?
Every institution or school which has access to a cosmic ray experiment that is capable to carry out one of the measurements described below can participate! The Google Map gives an overview of the participants who already have signed up.

Register here
After an introductory talk on the research field of cosmic rays and their discovery, the participants will conduct a cosmic particle experiment themselves. They will make measurements, analyse the data, and present their results on a poster. Via a video chat all simultaneously participating groups can compare and discuss their results.
The universe is a big place. Cosmic rays drift around and get energy boosts from multiple sources. Some particles attain enormous energies. When they strike the upper atmosphere, they initiate Extended Air Showers. These events create thousands of particles that simultaneously reach a small section of Earth's surface. More energetic primaries affect larger sections of the surface.
On this International Cosmic Day we will focus on two questions which will be addressed by student experiments:

  • Coincident air shower measurements: Can you find out how often nearby detectors simultaneously “light up” with cosmic rays? If they do, is it a randomness or a measurement of one of these showers?
  • Zenith angle distribution of air shower particles: Can you find out if the number of air shower particles arriving from the horizon is the same as from above? If it is not, what could cause this effect?



For questions please contact


Post date: Tue, Jul 22, 2014 — 11:55
Updated date: Fri, Jul 25, 2014 — 00:56

Learning Topics