The Falcon Telescope Network (FTN) is a global network of 20 inch telescopes being developed by the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Department of Physics. It will be shared with both U.S and international university partners for the purpose of undergraduate space research education and community STEM outreach .

Our goal is to increase student interest, engagement, and retention in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in creative ways by providing students with opportunities to participate in meaningful, hands-on, and authentic science experiences. We hope to spark and retain student interest in science through a variety of projects and initiatives utilizing the unique resources available within the Falcon Telescope Network.

The kickoff STEM outreach project for each FTN telescope will be the STEM First Light Project. This time we are celebrating the completion of the Fort Lewis College FTN telescope in Durango, CO. First light for a telescope marks the first official images taken by a newly-commissioned telescope. It is generally a very exciting event, akin to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new business or a maiden voyage of a ship.

We would like your students to participate in an exciting STEM First Light Project where students become scientists and a crucial part of selecting the Fort Lewis College FTN telescopes’ first STEM images! Classes or school associated groups will submit proposals expressing which astronomical objects to image on these milestone evenings. Proposing will require initial research by the students on what objects are visible in the night sky at the particular node location and current time of year. It will also require students to try their hand at scientific writing as they communicate their proposal idea to others.

To participate, a K-12 teacher or leader of a K-12 science organization must first register their information, complete the project, then upload the observation proposal; for more information on the proposal process see "Details" section below.

Who Can Register: K-12 Teachers or leaders of K-12 science organizations around the world.
Registration Open: February 6, 2018.
Registration Deadline: March 2, 2018.
Observation Proposal Due: March 9, 2018, see below for more information.
First Light : The week of March 19, 2018, weather permitting.

For more information contact
Visit the FTN website at


The proposals will be written within a provided template and submitted to USAFA via an upload on this website. It will include information such as the celestial coordinates of the object, background information on the chosen object, and why it should be one of the first images of the telescope. A class or group may participate in one or many of the first light events in the coming months.

Once you have registered and received a confirmation, you can find all related documents under  "My Registration" in the "Necessary Information" section.  


FTN is developed in partnership with Electronic Systems Center-MITRE, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Air Foce Space Command (AFSPC), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), and the FTN observatory sites.



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