Students with a passion for astronomy (SWAPA)

The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) is interested in promoting astronomy to young students in New Zealand’s schools who have an interest and passion for this science.

The Society is holding its annual conference in 2017 at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May 2017. The normal registration for non-members of the Society is $195 to come to the conference, but the Society is waiving this cost for up to 10 young astronomers who are keen to come and find out more about our science. We are also offering to these young astronomers participation in the conference banquet and planetarium show (normally $80) on the evening of 13 May, making a total prize package of $275 each.

Astronomers from throughout New Zealand and some from overseas will participate in this year’s conference. Many of these will be amateur astronomers, and RASNZ is pleased that amateurs in New Zealand contribute so much to the strength of the Society, together with a core of professionals, mainly in our universities.

To find out more about the RASNZ annual conference, the Society’s website at should be consulted.

To be considered for sponsorship at the RASNZ conference, students should email a short statement of no more than 300 words explaining why they would like to attend the conference and why they are interested in astronomy.

This statement should be sent to RASNZ President, John Drummond (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Friday 7 April at 5 pm. Please also include your name, school, age, year of study at school in 2017, email address, telephone contact and science teacher’s name. The winners of the competition will be selected for a clear enthusiasm for astronomy, their seniority, and good English in their submitted statement. Alternatively, a printed version can be posted to John Drummond, PO Box 113, Patutahi 4045.

The RASNZ Students with a Passion for Astronomy competition is most suited for students who are in years 11, 12 or 13 in 2017.

Those who win the sponsorship will be notified around mid April 2017. Winners are expected to be able to come to Dunedin and take part in the conference.

The sponsorship includes lunches and other refreshments on the 13 and 14 May and a reception on the evening of 12 May.

The costs of travel to Dunedin and accommodation there are not covered in this offer.

We will recommend a low cost accommodation option in Dunedin for all ten students. For those students who are coming to the conference unaccompanied, we will have two responsible adult mentors appointed who will look after your needs during your time in Dunedin and ensure you return safely to your home.

All winning students will also be offered free membership in RASNZ for the remainder of 2017.

This is a great opportunity to expose students to the exciting world of astronomy and the various sciences that are linked to it.

RASNZ is grateful to a bequest from the late Graham Blow, a Fellow of the Society, who left an endowment in his will which enables the costs of the Students with a Passion for Astronomy scheme to be funded.

John Drummond
President, Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand
9 March 2017