eso9640 — Organisation Release
Astronomy On-Line Programme Enters "Hot Week"
World's Biggest Astronomy WWW-Event Attracts Thousands of Students
13 November 1996
The Astronomy On-line Programme began officially on 1 October and is now about to enter its most intense phase, known as the Hot Week . On 18 - 22 November, an estimated 4000 astronomy-interested, mostly young people in Europe and on four other continents will get together during five days in what - not unexpected - has become the world's biggest astronomy event ever organised on the World Wide Web.
This carefully structured Programme is carried out in collaboration between the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE), the European Southern Observatory and the European Commission, under the auspices of the Fourth European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture.
The Programme has already had a most visible impact on the school education of natural sciences in various countries; for instance, the Internet-connection of schools has been advanced in some, in order to allow groups to participate. There have been numerous contacts among the groups across the borders and there are clear signs that many Astronomy On-line participants have progressed to use the impressive possibilities of the Web in an efficient and structured way.
There has been a lively media interest in Astronomy On-line all over Europe and it is expected to increase during the next week.
The current status of Astronomy On-line
It is obvious that the pilot function of the Astronomy On-line Programme in the use of the Web has been very effective and that the associated dissemination of astronomical knowledge has been successful.
At this time, more than 650 groups have registered with Astronomy On-line. Most come from 31 different European countries and a few dozen groups are located in North and South America as well as in Asia and Australia. Together they have experienced the steady build-up of Astronomy On-line over the past weeks, by means of numerous contributions from a large number of teachers, amateur astronomers and others interested in this field of science.
The Astronomy On-line concept is that of a well-structured marketplace with a number of different shops which cater to the participants with a great variety of interesting and educational activities. These range from the availability of useful links to educational and scientific Web sites all around the world, collaborative projects where many participants in different countries work together to achieve an astronomical result and, not the least, the possibility to submit observing programmes to a dozen telescopes at 10 major observatories, including La Silla in Chile.
In the early phases of Astronomy On-line, coordinated observations were performed of a lunar eclipse on 27 September and a partial solar eclipse on 12 October. Both events attracted many hundreds of observers from groups in almost all European countries and provisional reports have already been published on the Web. Many beautiful photographs and interesting reports about the activities of the individual groups are also available at their special Web sites.
The Hot Week will last from Monday to Friday, 18-22 November and the time interval from 15:00-21:00 UT (16:00 - 22:00 Central European Time) will be the busiest. During this period, a variety of activities will take place. For instance, the groups will have the opportunity to contact professional astronomers at many observatories. They will also be invited to follow the other developments, e.g. the astronomical observations. The resulting images will immediately be made available on the Web. There will also be a Final Event involving all the groups.
How to obtain more information about Astronomy On-line
Astronomy On-line may be accessed through: http://www.eso.org/astronomyonline/
National Astronomy On-line Committees have been established in many European countries. They have set up National Astronomy On-line Web-sites which can be reached directly from the sites indicated above. Information about the individual groups, their participants' interests as well as their postal, E-mail and Web addresses are also available, sorted by country.
The addresses of the National organisers of Astronomy On-line may be found at these Web sites. A full report about this unique pilot project will become available before the end of this year.