Astronomy On-Line is a complex undertaking that involves many persons, both on the organising and the participating side.
Three weeks after the official opening on October 1, new features continue to become available at short intervals.
During the past week, four exercises have been installed in the Try Your Skills Shop. Two of these are at the Advanced level, meaning that they demand some knowledge about astronomy and are probably best suited for the 17+ age group, while there is sofar one each at the Basic (12-14 age group) and Middle (15-16 age group) levels.
The participants will be pleased to learn that the first Treasure Hunt is ready. This one is not too demanding and it should be possible for most groups to master it. We expect that other Hunts will soon become available. In this connection, we should like to remind all groups that they are most welcome to prepare such Hunts and to propose them for inclusion into Astronomy On-Line. We just ask that they be submitted to the respective National Steering Committees who will check them and then pass them on to the Webmasters.
More observatory Homepages are ready to be linked from the Telescopes and Instruments page. It is expected that the submission of observing proposal may begin towards the end of the current week - watch out for the signal!
Another, most welcome development is concerned with a new Collaborative Project dealing with the observation of variable stars. The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is preparing a project which will enable all participating groups to contribute with observations of some of these interesting objects. The texts which describe such observations and their background in great detail are now being prepared for insertion, hopefully some time later this week.
A group in Germany is actively preparing another Collaborative Project that will attempt to measure the solar parallax and thus the distance to our central star expressed in kilometres. This astronomical problem defied many generations of astronomers, before the first, reliable measurements were obtained in the 18th century. More news will follow about this exciting but demanding project, directed towards groups with telescopes that are equipped with CCD cameras.
There are now over 475 registered groups and this number is continuing to rise! At this moment, Sweden is leading with 70 groups, closely followed by the United Kingdom. The groups are located in 30 European countries (now including Russia) and on four other continents.
Many groups are now beginning to establish their own Homepages and we will do our best to update the `Group Information' pages at short notice when we learn about such developments. We hope that all groups will find some time to `visit' eachother via these Homepages - there is a lot of exciting information around and more is coming all the time!
ESO Education and Public Relations Department