In July 1996, I had the opportunity to travel to London and participate in the meeting of the International Astronomical Union about Astronomy education. This was a fine occasion for me to learn about the currecnt projects and I have since talked to my colleagues here in the Republic of Georgia. This is the country which is placed right in the middle of the Caucasian mountains.
One of the programmes I heard about was Astronomy On-Line. It was obvious to me that this would be a most welcome chance for students and teachers in my country to learn about astronomy and, in particular, to get in contact with friends and colleagues in other countries. We have a long tradition of astronomy in our country. But, of course, I was from the beginning aware of the difficult situation - we have few computer links and even less computers in Georgian schools. Professional astronomers are not much better off.
Now, however, my efforts concerning joining Georgia to the Astronomy On-Line All-European Programme gave first, although modest, result.
We may be too late to join the present phase, but I cannot imagine that this programme will not continue in some way, also after the end of November. If the International Steering Committee accepts me as the National Representative from Georgia, I will act as a national contact point for the Programme. I think that in a month or two we will be able to set up a Georgian National Steering Committee.
I talked to several people here (teachers, those from the planetarium, etc) and witnessed their great interest towards Astronomy On-Line. Unfortunately the main obstacle is still the lack of computers. For the time being, we will have to use ESO VHS video tape and the colour poster I got. May we obtain some more copies of them?
At the same time I am glad to inform that I found the Macintosh system for the CD I kindly received in London (NASA 'Astronomy Village'). I am going to examine it first myself and then to think about how and what can be done for the wide use of it for students.
I send my best greetings to all participants in Astronomy On-Line!
Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory, Republic of Georgia