Finally, the "Hot Week" has arrived! You will have seen that the top page looks different and, as you know, from now on Astronomy On-line has entered the intense phase. This is when you as a participant will have the opportunity to experience a great variety of activities, most of which are connected to astronomy and related sciences.
You are surely aware that Astronomy On-line is a pilot programme. This means that together we are paving the road for similar future events in other fields of science. This is a great responsibility, in particular because the positive aspects of Astronomy On-line, as well as the problems we may experience, will interest many people also far beyond astronomy and telecommunication.
For the same reason, we will have to do our best to overcome such problems which may arise, of whatever nature they may be. For instance, this morning (that is the nature of matters!) part of the ESO computer system broke down and for some hours we were without any connection to the outside world.
Fortunately, thanks to the very dedicated work of technicians in- and outside ESO, it was possible to restore the system, so that it again became fully operational just after noon.
We have now received the last registrations and they have been entered. As you will see in today's Newspaper, we estimate that there are more than 4500 participants, an amazing number in view of the comparatively short time you and we have had to start up the Astronomy On-line Programme. We know that many schools have been connected to the Internet in the very last moment and that in some places, the first real experience with Internet and the World Wide Web will only commence during these days.
Nevertheless, we have no doubt that this will be a very useful, educational and enjoyable experience, and we shall do our best on this side to help you whenever needed. During the next days you will be informed through the Newspaper and sometimes by direct E-mail about what is going on within the Astronomy On-line Programme. As before, you will witness how the contents and scope of the many Web pages will continue to increase and diversify.
We hope you will take this unique opportunity to move around in the virtual world of the World Wide Web, but never forget that beyond all the information and the activities which are offered, there are always real people who have the same interests as you. We believe that you will meet many good friends in- and outside your own country, perhaps on other continents.
At this moment, two important activities take place, Observations with Professional Telescopes and Talk to the Astronomers. We are doing our best to keep updating these areas of Astronomy On-line as they develope, but in view of the large amount of material, we may sometimes be just a little behind.