Stargazing and amateur astronomy course for Matariki, 21-23 July 2023

In partnership with the Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy, the Arcus Venue is super excited to host a stargazing and amateur astronomy course as part of the Matariki Ramaroa Festival Programme. 

Do you love gazing up at the brilliant night sky?

If you enjoy stargazing and want to learn how to identify constellations and planets, and learn more about Matariki, then this practical course led by some of New Zealand’s top astronomers, is for you.

This hands-on course is designed for stargazing enthusiasts, aspiring amateur astronomers and astrophotographers, locals interested in Matariki, and anyone who wants to have fun navigating the night sky by telescope or binoculars. 

No previous experience required. Limited to 26 people only.

Dates and times

Friday 21 July 2.30-10.30pm
Sat 22 July 9am-10.30pm 
Sun 23 July 9am-5pm

Early bird price

$325 per person incl GST
Until midnight 25 June

Standard ticket price

$425 per person incl GST
From midnight 25 June

Gain confidence to set up and use a telescope and navigate the night sky

Since Matariki became a national holiday, there has been a thirst for knowledge in many communities to understand more about the stars and the night sky, and also to appreciate Te arorangi Māori. 

Led by some of NZ's leading astronomy experts, this course will inspire the local residents of Wellington, Ōtaki and the Kāpiti Coast with the beauty of the night sky, share the significance of Matariki, explain about the stars, planets and the universe, show how to use a small telescope and do some practical observing. 

Participants will gain the confidence to become amateur astronomers:

  • School teachers who attend will enthuse their students.

  • Local iwi who attend will expand on their knowledge of Matariki.

  • Amateur astronomers who attend may well want to enter Aotearoa’s thriving astrotourism industry as a night-sky guide after doing our AAA course.

  • Budding photographers who attend will learn how to overcome the unique challenges of photographing celestial bodies.

Combine passion and curiosity for the night sky with practical astronomy skills on this special hands-on course for the public

What you will learn

Over a weekend, you will learn how to:

  • Identify and observe constellations, planets and other celestial bodies in the Southern Hemisphere using a small telescope or binoculars

  • Take photographs at night from a top Kiwi astrophotographer, Dr Steve Chadwick

  • Set up and use a small telescope for night-time observations from your place

  • Experience the night sky using a telescope located at a private observatory also in Te Horo

  • Appreciate the significance of Matariki and Māori navigation from top Matariki astronomy expert, Dr Pauline Harris

  • Share your new knowledge with others in your communities, schools and family

  • Join New Zealand’s growing astrotourism industry by establishing an astroguiding business, if this inspires you. 

Delivered by five expert instructors, including John Hearnshaw who established Tekapo's Dark Sky Reserve, this Matariki course will comprise educational workshops during the day and practical observing sessions with telescopes over two evenings (weather permitting). 

One instructor is local Māori astronomer and Matariki expert, Dr Pauline Harris from Massey Uni, who will weave Matariki wisdom throughout the course delivery. We also have Dr Steve Chadwick, one of Aotearoa’s leading astrophotographers also from Massey Uni, who will demonstrate the science and art of how to capture the beauty of the night sky on camera.

Unique in the world, our past courses have received exceptional acclaim for enthusing our participants and our professionalism.

Course details and cost

Venue: The Arcus Events Centre on Arcus Rd in Te Horo (between Waikanae and Ōtaki)

Times: Friday 21 July 2:30 pm to 10:30 pm; Saturday 22 July 9:00 am to 10:30 pm; Sunday 23 July 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Early bird price: $325 pp (until midnight 25 June)

Standard ticket price: $425 pp (after midnight 25 June)

Number of participants: about 24 (max 26)

Programme outline: An immersive programme of lectures, workshops, demonstrations with small telescopes and cameras, and practical observing will be offered. We will also visit a private observatory in Te Horo for observing and stargazing (weather permitting).

Accommodation: If you don't live nearby, consider local accommodation in Te Horo, Waikanae or Ōtaki. This course is part of Māoriland's Matariki Ramaroa Festival Programme in Ōtaki so local accommodation options will book out.

How to book

Book online on the Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy website

Registering is simple. Simply complete the online form on the AAA website and pay via bank transfer, when your spot is confirmed.

Act quickly and enjoy the early bird price of $325 per person (incl GST) until 25 June. $425 per person after that.

Spaces are limited to 26 people, so please register today to secure your place on this one-of-a-kind course.

Please contact AAA if you have any questions

"Thank you so much for such an inspiring and informative course. Thoroughly enjoyable and super stoked to have learnt from such acclaimed instructors."

Karen, Piha 2022

"Such a great range of topics all covered in the right amount of detail. I didn't want the weekend to end. I'll certainly be recommending this course to others."

Mike, Twizel, 2022

"Each session was riveting and at the right level for us as complete beginners. I enjoyed the course very much and also networking with other budding astroguides."

Liz, Twizel, 2022


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