Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy
Join a stellar crew of Kiwi astronomers
for an awe-inspiring stargazing experience
Amateur astronomy and stargazing courses
Learn stargazing and amateur astronomy skills from some of New Zealand's top astronomy experts, and become an astro-tourist guide
Courses are open to all Kiwis with a passion and intrigue for stargazing
and the wonders of the night sky
NEXT COURSE SOLD OUT:
TEKAPO, SOUTH iSLAND
Kāpiti, NORTH ISLAND
This special Matariki course, included in the Māoriland Matariki Ramaroa Festival Programme, is especially for amateur astronomers or anyone wanting to learn more about navigating the stars in the night sky, using a small telescope or binoculars.
Who is Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy?
Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy (AAA) is a group of astronomy experts, who give amateur astronomy and stargazing courses for the love of astronomy and Te arorangi Māori. AAA was launched by Professor John Hearnshaw with the support of Nalayini Davies, to satisfy an unmet need in the astronomical community. Since 2021, we have held several courses in Tekapo, Twizel, Martinborough and Auckland. Our latest course, especially to mark national Matariki celebrations, is in Te Horo between Waikanae and Ōtaki near Wellington.
Our motivation is to share precious knowledge about and our passion for the night sky with a wider audience so others may develop a deeper appreciation for and are inspired to conserve Aotearoa’s dark skies for generations to come. We have trained scores of people from school teachers to university students to iwi and amateur astronomers and photographers, and nature lovers. Our graduates have shared their new-found knowledge and passion with thousands of dark sky reserve astrotourists and stargazing enthusiasts all around New Zealand.
Worldwide, dark skies are under threat from light and other pollution. Protected dark sky places, such as the one established by AAA-instructor Professor John Hearnshaw in Tekapo, are sacred sanctuaries that generate millions of visitors and tourism dollars for locals.
We have a team of nine instructors from around New Zealand, each with their own speciality from astrophotograpy to Matariki and star navigation, equipment operation, dark sky reserves and the dark sky movement, astrotourism and the lifecycle of stars.
Astronomy topics we teach
General course topics:
- Astrotourism and dark sky places in New Zealand
- How binoculars and telescopes work and how to use a telescope
- Our place in the universe
- Coordinates and time in astronomy
- Principal celestial objects to look at with astrotourists and stargazers
- The astronomy equipment for you
- Astronomy outreach – 20 tips to remember
- Naming of stars and celestial objects
- Māori astronomy, Te arorangi Māori and Matariki
- Dark sky reserve protection and conservation
- Notes for astro-tour guides
- The lives of stars: star formation, evolution and star death
- Useful books, publications and software for night sky guides
Deep-dive training workshops:
- How to start an astrotourism business
- Practical observing with a small telescope
- Grand astro-quiz for all
For those interested in:
- NZ’s night sky and the universe – what you can see and what lies beyond
- Astronomy – what objects are observable and how best to observe them
- Astrophotography today – the products and the practice
- Astrotourism and public outreach – how to conduct these successfully
- The Dark Sky Movement in NZ – what it is and how you can participate
- Buying a telescope or binoculars – which is best for you and how to use them
AAA courses are for people interested in:
NZ’s Dark Sky Movement
Night Sky Navigators
What Attendees Say about AAA’s Courses
Today I'm picking up my 8” Dobsonian package from AstroNZ! So beginning my Dobsonian man journey! Joining in with WAS will also be part of the plan and a few of us locally are hopefully going to keep meeting up from time to time.
Once again, thanks for such a thorough weekend of learning and inspiration“.
The venue was great too, and delicious food. I found it so stimulating and have bought quite a few books to keep up with my learning.
Presenters - this was a fantastic element of the program. The knowledge and experience of each was top notch and offered great value to the learning experience.
I have applied for membership of the Wellington Astronomical Society so hope to continue improving my knowledge in the future.
The material covered was excellent, and the level of information was never too esoteric to comprehend, too basic for the level of knowledge I already have, nor too quickly presented, so very well done there. I think the pacing was excellent, and you all have wonderful presentation styles.
2-4 DECEMBER 2022
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Home of the America’s Cup is a spacious, multi-functional building at the foot of the Harbour Bridge in Westhaven Marina.
The RNZYS building has a distinctive nautical appearance where sun-drenched decks and rooms offer superb views over Westhaven Marina, CBD, Waitemata Harbour and the Harbour Bridge.
8-10 JULY 2022
MARTINBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
The Martinborough Hotel offers boutique accommodation located on the doorstep to everything Martinborough and the South Wairarapa has to offer.
TEKAPO, NEW ZEALAND
Tekapo is situated in the South Island of New Zealand, within the Aoraki-Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.
TWIZEL, NEW ZEALAND
The course is designed for current or prospective astrotourism night-sky guides or for anyone interested in navigating the night sky and understanding more about astronomy.