The First (Experimental) International Astronomy Olympiad took place at the Special Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Zelenchukskaja (Russia) on November 1-8 this year. Pupils representing five nationalities in Russia and our team from Sweden participated. Contacts with several more countries had been taken, but it was impossible to find financial support for participants from these this year. The next olympiad is already being planned, and we hope that far more countries can be represented then. This next competition will take place at SAO in the autumn of 1997, and will be preceded by national competitions in the participating countries.
The competitors were divided in two classes: grades 8-10 and grades 11-12. Our team participated in the latter class. Two students from Russia won and our team shared the second and third prizes.
In immediate connection to the competitions, an autumn school for astrophysics took place at SAO. The lectures were mostly in Russian but they were translated into English by interpreters. Activities included excursions to the 6-m BTA telescope and the RATAN 600-meter radio telescope during observations. The students also had the opportunity to expose plates with the Kazan University 40 cm telescope, with the kind assistance of an astronomer whenever needed. Furthermore we could borrow strong binoculars and amateur telescopes. We were also invited to use almost everything at the institute: computers, library etc. and the hospitality was really great.
The Olympiad and the autumn school was a very great experience for us. Those who are interested to get further information about these activities are welcome to contact us.
Erika Ahlqvist (NV3B) Andreas Andersson (NV2B) Eeva-Liisa Karjalainen (NV2B) and Anders Västerberg (teacher and member of the Olympic Council).