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Southwest Astronomy V.

A field conference in Arizona and New Mexico

Begins Friday evening July 7, ends Sunday July 23, 2023

About Southwest Astronomy V.

Southwest Astronomy V. is a field conference hosted jointly by the Michigan and National Earth Science Teachers Associations. 

Do you teach astronomy and wish that you could make it more relevant to your students? This trip is an awesome way to enhance your credibility factor. Return to class with photos of you at major observatories. Entertain your students with stories of people you met, places you went, experiences you had. Bring back astro swag and classroom materials.

Do you like astronomy, but wish you had a better understanding of what astronomers study and why it's of interest? Would you like a chance to learn more about telescopes, instruments, spacecraft, or just the night sky? Go behind the scenes to see state of the art instrumentation, and spend time under dark skies to see what's up there.

Do you want to build a more interdisciplinary approach to teaching and/or communicating science? SWA V. will provide opportunities with visits to archeoastronomy sites, amateur astro-imagers, authors, dark sky advocates, and astrotourism facilities.

Are you excited about meeting people who share the same passion for astronomy that you do? Join us and expand your network of astronomy friends!

A virtual meeting to discuss questions and more trip details will be held on Tuesday, February 21 from 7-8 pm EST/ 4-5 pm PST. A link will be sent to those interested in attending. Indicate your interest by filling out this form.

Trip Details 

You can sign up for either the entire trip or the Tucson-only component:

  • Tucson area component July 7 - 17
  • On the road July 18-23: (Arizona: Flagstaff, Holbrook; New Mexico: Chaco Canyon, Socorro, Sunspot)

CEUs are available: 3 for the Tucson trip/ 4 CEUs for the entire trip

The maximum group size is 25. A waiting list will be maintained if interest exceeds the size limit.

All photos on this page are from Southwest Astronomy IV.

How it works

  • Meet in Tucson. Arrange your own transportation and lodging (we will help with facilitating details).
  • Families and non-teaching spouses are welcome when possible, but some events are restricted to teachers only or have restrictions on children, depending on their age. Each person in a family or group must pay the registration fee if planning to attend fee-entry places and receive registration materials. Contact us with questions re: children or non-teaching spouses/partners.
  • There will be an informational online meeting on January 28 (see pink box above) to discuss trip details and answer questions.
  • An additional pre-trip meeting will be held later in the spring for those registered.

Registration details

You must be a member of MESTA (Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association) or NESTA (National Earth Science Teachers Association) in order to register. MESTA membership is $10/year.   NESTA membership is $40/ year.

The registration fee covers admittance to all events, a field notebook, a T Shirt, and some free materials. There will be many opportunities to purchase additional astronomy items as well!

Registration for the entire trip is $400 per person. Registration for the Tucson-only trip is $300 per person. Registration is fully refundable up to 30 days before the trip start.

Register here.

 Trip at a Glance:

Tucson area 

Kitt Peak National Observatory (mutilple telescopes and visitor center), and a night program

NOIRLab and Vera C. Rubin Observatory headquarters (teacher workshops)

Steward Observatory: Mt. Lemmon Sky CenterARO 12-meter Telescope, Spacewatch telescopes

Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory

Mt. Graham International Observatory  (Large Binocular Telescope, Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Radio Telescope)

Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab 

Lunar & Planetary Laboratory

World View Spaceport

Flandrau Planetarium


Casa Grande National Monument

Center for Dark and Quiet Skies/ International Dark Sky Association

Mars Spaceflight Facility and Mars Education Center/ LROC 

Desert Peak Observatory (private observatory)

Rock and astronomy swag giveaway and closing dinner

* The above list is not exhaustive. More details and speakers will be added as they are confirmed. Some visits may be subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen events.

On the Road

USGS Astrogeology Center (Flagstaff)

Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff)

U.S. Naval Observatory (Flagstaff)

Lowell/ NAU Astrophysical Materials (Ice) Lab (Flagstaff)

Astronaut training grounds (Flagstaff)

Meteor Crater (near Holbrook)

Chaco Culture National Historic Park (NW New Mexico)

Karl Jansky Very Large Array (Socorro, NM)

Apache Point Observatory (near Sunspot, NM)

Sunspot Astronomy Center (Sunspot, NM)

Closing dinner in Alamogordo, NM

Questions?  Email:

Need help with trip finances?

If you are a MESTA member and currently employed as a teacher, professor or full time informal educator, consider applying for a Cranson Field Scholarship to cover up to $1000 for trip expenses. Up to five scholarships may be awarded each year. Preference is given to early career educators.

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