Welcome by the President of EAAE

I am sure that if you are reading these lines you are more than likely an Astronomy Aficionado, a person who considers astronomy a worthwhile undertaking. If you already have registered to participate as part of a group in our interesting project, I would like to extend to you EAAE's thanks and best wishes for an enjoyable learning experience! But most of all I would like to speak mainly to those of you who have not yet registered and urge you to do so as soon as possible.

I can appreciate that many of you may be concerned because you may consider that Astronomy On-Line is the exclusive bailiwick of students who are well versed in the science of astronomy and who have already participated in the past in other astronomy projects. Yet, this is far from our intention because Astronomy On-Line was not conceived to appeal only to those who know much about astronomy or even to those with an extensive observational experience. It is rather a project for everyone who loves astronomy even though he/she may never had before the opportunity to participate in an astronomy-oriented activity.

In these pages you will soon find that there are many projects that do not require previously acquired knowledge of astronomy and that many exercises will lead you through simple steps in learning more than you thought would be possible. Take for example the Eratosthenes Exercise: in cooperation with another group from some other country you can duplicate easily the experiment which led Eratosthenes in estimating the circumference of our planet. This project is not any less important than those involving observational projects with some of the world's most advanced astronomical instruments because the scientific method and line of thought are the same in both cases.

A few weeks ago I was reading about Isaac Newton who has been called one of the greatest intellectual pioneers of all time. According to that report when Newton was sixteen, a great storm arose. While prudent folks sought shelter from the wind, the young man performed what he later remembered as his debut scientific experiment. He first jumped with the wind, then against it. By comparing the distances of the two jumps, he was able to estimate the force of the gale.

Astronomy On Line has this then as its main goal: to involve young people in activities which will arouse their curiosity, unleash their imagination and make them part of the scientific method. And maybe in the process we may have helped launch the new Isaac Newtons of the 21st Century.

I urge you then to get together with a couple of your friends and register to participate in Astronomy On-Line; there is something for everyone.

Dennis Simopoulos
President, European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE)

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Last update: Sept. 30, 1996