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IEX J-Term 2018 Astronomy of the Southern Skies
Christchurch, New Zealand; Wollongong, Australia (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: January Interim
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Budget Sheets January Interim
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA:
Program Description:
Visit the Great Barrier Reef, Queenstown, and glaciers of the South Island of New Zealand. Study astronomy where the skies are dark and people are passionate about it!

Overview. This course is intended to lead students to an understanding and appreciation of the universe. Astronomy and astrophysics are observationally driven sciences. The ever changing relationship between observations and their interpretation is stressed throughout the course. There have been clear periods when observational astronomy has driven theoretical astronomy and others where the roles have been reversed. This course is designed to illustrate the methods used by scientists (particularly astronomers) and to describe how these methods have changed over the course of history. Participants will learn about the relationships between observations and theories by studying examples from astronomy and physics. In this course we will also discuss the relationships between science and mathematics, science and religion, and science and society.

The student beginning this course will be expected to understand basic mathematical principles such as those taught in high school algebra and geometry. During the course of the semester, algebra and geometry will be used extensively to discuss physical processes. The student will also be introduced to some concepts in trigonometry to illustrate the connection between mathematics and science, but the student is not expected to use trigonometry to solve any problems. It is hoped that over the course of the semester the math skills of most students will improve as a result of the assignments in this course.

  • This course meets one of the two IEX (Interim Experience) requirements for all Gustavus students
  • View the stars of the southern skies from world class observatories
  • Learn about the geology of New Zealand and Australia first hand on trips to see mountains, glaciers and waterfalls
  • Experience the aboriginal cultures of both countries
  • Enjoy the tropical beaches and rain forests
  • Gain an international perspective on science and nature
  • Led by professor of physics, Chuck Niederriter. 

  • Christchurch, NZ
  • Akoroa, NZ
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Queenstown, NZ
  • Milford Sound fiord
  • Te Anau, NZ
  • Fox Glacier
  • Westport, NZ
  • Nelson, NZ
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Wollongong, AUS
  • Wollongong area rainforest, waterfalls, and blow holes
  • Sydney, AUS


Academic Calendar. Approximate dates for 2018 are as follows:
  • Two to three pre-departure meetings: TBA during fall semester 2017 (students who will be away this semester should contact Chuck Niederitter)   
  • On-site program: Dec 30, 2017 to Feb. 2, 2018

Accommodation. Double- or multiple-occupancy rooms in residence halls, hotels, and hostels. Varies throughout the program, as this program travels to several sites.

Program Costs. The program fee is $7,900. While this is a higher fee than for most other Gustavus J-Term courses, please keep in mind that it is a very comprehensive fee (includes round-trip airfare, all lodging, all excursions, many meals while in residence halls, some group meals at other times, travel medical insurance, etc.). The other costs will be certain meals during travel days, and personal expenses (souvenirs, toiletries, etc.). In addition, this course meets for five weeks, while most other J-Term courses are three to four weeks. All in all, the fee is competitive for the length of the program and the two (higher cost) countries involved.

Eligibility. This program is open to all admitted Gustavus students (including new first-year students in 2017-18) and is especially well suited to students interested in astronomy and culture. Students from other colleges with a J-Term are also welcome to apply through the J-Term (or 4-1-4) exchange program. All participants are expected to have completed their First-Term Seminar, the first Three Crowns course, or the equivalent first-year seminar or introductory writing course at other campuses.

Application Deadline. The application deadline is now June 30, 2017. However, applications will be screened on a rolling basis as they are completed. Dr. Niederitter will interview all applicants.

Entry visas. U.S citizens will not need an entry visa or permit for such a short stay in New Zealand and Australia. All students who are not U.S. citizens are advised to contact Justin Kader to check about possible visa needs.

This program is currently not accepting applications.