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Programs : Brochure

This is the program brochure page.
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description


Milky Way

Quick Facts

  • March 7 - March 13, 2020 / Application Deadline - January 5, 2020

  • Backpack in the otherworldly Red Rocks of Sedona

  • Intellectually explore the intersection of physics, wilderness exploration, and alien worlds

  • Includes 8 class meetings (4 prep, 4 follow up) and a practice hike 

Application Requirements

To apply for this program, click the "Apply Now" button above. This will generate an online application with the requirements listed below. Please also refer to the "Academics" tab for specific eligibility information. Note: Non-ASU students should consult these instructions before applying.


Red Rock Canyon

Location Details

Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness
The Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness is a labyrinth of intricate canyons and pine-topped plateaus just over a two hour drive from Phoenix.  The landscape feels as though it is from another world and the dark night skies reveal a universe full of stars. The famed scenery draws tourists from all around. With a dry climate and generally moderate temperatures, the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness is a backpacker's dream. We will trek off into that wilderness on a journey away from modern distractions in search of peace, solitude, and a better understanding of our planet, all planets, and the universe.

Maps of Possible Hiking Routes (subject to change) 



Eligibility Requirements

  • GPA of 2.0
  • Open to all majors


Students will enroll in the following course during the Spring registration period for a total of three credits:
  • SES 494: Wilderness Astronomy (3 credits)* **

*Please note that this course counts towards your Spring semester load.  If registering for this course will put you in a course-overload situation, you will need to speak with your academic advisor for an override.   

**The SES 494 course will meet Tuesdays, 4:30 - 6:30 PM.

Course Format

Students will enroll in the C Session course during Spring 2020 for three credits.  As part of the course, students will participate on this program during Spring Break (March 7 - March 13).  Students will then complete the course during the second half of the semester.  The list below details what will be covered during the course. Please note that a poll will be taken to select class dates that are best for all participants: 
  1. Backpacking basics
    1. Intro and course expectations
    2. Backpacking gear and how to use it
    3. How to read a topo map and use a compass
  2. Night Sky Primer
  3. Basic Physics and Atmospheric Dynamics Primer
  4. Gear verification and test, physical qualifications. Meet at South Mountain Park Pima Canyon Trailhead.
  5. Weather and Climate Primer
  6. March 7-13 -- Wilderness Astronomy Program
  7. Hot Wash
    1. Discussion of trip. How’d it go? Highs? Lows? Lessons learned?
    2. Photo sharing session
  8. Night Sky Review
    1. Blog posts due
  9. Basic Physics and Atmospheric Dynamics Review
  10. Weather and Climate Review
  11. Wrap up and wilderness benediction (meet at South Mountain Park Pima Canyon Trailhead)
    1. Sunset hike
    2. Tips for independently planning trips
    3. Provide take-home, open-book final (due in two weeks) and outcomes survey





Faculty Directors

Parke Loyd, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Scholar
School of Earth and Space Exploration
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Office: PSF 228
Phone: 859.230.1962

Melodie Kao, PhD
Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Earth and Space Exploration
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  
Office: PSF 228

Joe O'Rourke, PhD
Assistant Professor
School Of Earth and Space Exploration 
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dr. Loyd Kayaking

Dr. Melodie Kao

Joe O'Rourke


Superstition Mountains

Program Housing

Students will sleep in tents in unimproved sites (i.e. whatever areas on the ground that we can find that are relatively flat). Sharing of tents in pairs or trios might be permitted if the students wish to make such arrangements ahead of time and the instructors receive the written consent of each student to that effect. However, we will encourage single-person tents, especially for students who feel they are introverted. Sleeping outside of a tent is also an option, but students will be required to have a tent available in case of rain.

Special Considerations

Below you will find information that may help you in planning for your study abroad experience. Early discussions and planning can help to support you in having a positive experience abroad. We invite you to meet with the International Coordinator for this program to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Physical Considerations

During the backpacking portion of this program, students must traverse rough, unimproved trails. At times, these could present particular difficulties such as rocks, steep grades, and narrow passages. Students might need to traverse up to or exceeding 10 miles a day on such trails, though 6 miles is the anticipated daily average. In addition, the group might ascend several thousand vertical feet in a day.

Students will sleep on the ground, most likely with the only cushioning provided by a thin camping pad. Each student must carry their own sleeping materials, clothing, food, water, and any other personal belongings in backpacks. These will likely weigh about 40 lbs. at the start of the trip.

Students will be exposed to the elements, such as hot and cold temperatures, bites from parasites like mosquitoes and ticks, rain, wind, and direct sun. There will be no facilities for personal hygiene available. Occasional use of stream water for washing might be possible, but this is not guaranteed. No bathroom facilities will be available.

Privacy is afforded by separating oneself from the group and using natural cover (bushes, rocks, terrain, etc.). Urination is conducted directly onto the ground and defecation into small holes dug by the student. Aside from using the bathroom and sleeping in an individual tent, the trip is unlikely to afford much privacy to the students. Only non-perishable foods will be consumed, primarily pre-prepared freeze-dried camping meals. There will be no refrigeration available for food or medications.


Disability Accommodations Abroad

Individuals with disabilities can and do study abroad, but may find accessibility and accommodation in one of more of this program’s locations very different from the United States.  

In general, the Study Abroad Office cannot guarantee access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites on this program. Any student who anticipates needing any kind of special accommodation due to a disability should contact the ASU Study Abroad Office early in the planning process to investigate the availability of accommodations (including accessible facilities) on this specific program. Contact the Disability Resource Center and your Disability Access Consultant to include them in the discussion; be sure to give your Disability Access Consultant permission to speak with the Study Abroad Office on your behalf. You can find additional information and resources on our Students with Disabilities page.

LGBTQIA Students Abroad

Students of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities will find that the social climate, laws, and norms of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. If you identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer student - or if you are still exploring your identity - you may face unique challenges when traveling abroad.  

We encourage students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA community to visit the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information about laws and attitudes in this program’s locations, including pre-travel tips and advice on staying safe while abroad. You can find additional information and resources on our LGBTQIA Students page.

Gender Identity Abroad

When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms than you’re used to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on your (or their) gender identity.  

You can find additional information and resources on our Gender Identity Abroad page.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may encounter unique challenges transitioning from life here in the United States to life as a student living abroad, including but not limited to access to personal care products and services.

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may experience by researching the ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations. We encourage students to start that research on our Racial and Ethnic Minority Students page.


Cost Information

The Program Fee for Spring Break 2020 is $650.

Program Fee includes: Transportation, daily meals, and ASU faculty support. Not included: Tuition for the 3-credit course, camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc., full list of required gear here), personal expenses, and miscellaneous items.  Please note that the participant is fully responsible for making arrangements and for all costs of transportation, lodging, food and additional expenses that may be associated with any non-Program activities.

Faculty Directed program participants are also responsible for paying a non-refundable $50 Application Fee, in addition to the Program Fee listed above. All other costs associated with participation in the program are the responsibility of the individual student. Be sure to reference the program cost sheet for information on program fees and any additional estimated expenses.


Funding Your Program

Participating in a Domestic Global Learning (DGL) program is an investment in your future, which requires careful planning and management. However, the personal, academic, and professional rewards that you will gain from this experience will last a lifetime. You should carefully consider costs, budgets and financing when selecting and preparing for your experience. If you have questions at any step of the process, we encourage you to reach out to your International Coordinator for guidance.

Steps to Financing Your Study Abroad Office Program

  1. View the program Cost Sheet to find a breakdown of program expenses.
  2. Attend a Financing Your Study Abroad Workshop.
  3. Consider your Financial Aid options.
  4. Search and Apply for Scholarships and Grants.
  5. Exhaust your options by exploring Additional Funding Resources including our Community-Based Funding Guide.
  6. View our  Financing Your Study Abroad Program Handbook for more information, including Payment Information.

Unique Opportunities for Funding

  • ASU Tuition Waiver may be applied on this program to cover the tuition associated with this program.  The ASU Tuition Waiver cannot be used to subsidize the posted program fee.


Links to Additional Resources

*The ASU Study Abroad Office does not officially endorse, administer or monitor the content of these links.

Dates & Deadlines
Dates & Deadlines
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Post-Spring 2021 11/15/2020
Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision tasks prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.