It is now just about 2 months since the Hot Phase of Astronomy On-Line took place and many of the organizers have been busy thinking about how this unique project can best continue in the future.
Of course, it is still there! The entire structure is available and anybody who wants to use the large material stored on the Astronomy On-Line Web-pages, is welcome to do so. Note in particular that the Whiteboard may be used at any time for chats among participants.
However, a programme like Astronomy On-Line must develop in order to remain useful and interesting. The International Steering Committee is thinking about this and expects that it will soon be possible to provide specific indications of possible Astronomy On-Line activities in 1997, for instance events similar to the Solar and Lunar Eclipses last autumn.
Moreover, it turns out that a new Programme under the auspices of the EU Commission, known as Thematic Network might provide a useful frame for Astronomy On-Line in the future. A corresponding first approach has been already made to the appropriate EU office, and we are now awaiting a preliminary response from Brussels.
Another obvious possibility would be to continue Astronomy On-Line under the auspices of the Fifth European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture in late 1997. However, it is quite clear from the experience last year that Astronomy On-Line ought to become a permanent feature with semi-regular highlights in the form of special projects, for instance in connection with particular astronomical events.
It has been remarked from several sides that last year's 'Hot Phase' took place somewhat early in the school year, at a moment when many students had not yet acquired sufficient knowledge about fundamental astronomical concepts. For this reason, it would also appear that activities later in the school year, for instance during the coming months, might be welcome.
In this connection, the apparition of bright Comet Hale-Bopp is of great interest and it is strongly recommended that all participants in Astronomy On-Line who are interested in this, take a look at the Hale-Bopp Collaborative Project and also the article in this issue of the Newspaper.