The Astronomy On-Line Bulletins describe recent developments around this project. For the time being, they will be issued at irregular intervals.
On June 15 - 16, 1996, about 30 key officials of the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) met at the Headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching (Bavaria, Germany) with the President of the EAAE, D. Simopoulos (Athens) in the Chair. Present were Members of the Executive Council, National Representatives from 17 European countries and also the Chairpersons of most of the EAAE Working Groups.
Among the various subjects discussed, the planning for the Astronomy On-Line project played a major role. Intensive deliberations led to an improved definition of the overall project, including the exact dates during which it will be carried out.
The meeting resolved to set up an International Steering Committee (ISC) which will be responsible for the proper execution of the project. It consists of seven members representing WWW technology, as well as astronomical education, science and technology. The EAAE Treasurer is also a member and will look after the financial aspects.
At the same time, National Steering Committees (NSCs) will be set up. The EAAE National Representatives will look after this.
The ISC will now draft the guidelines for the NSCs that will serve to ensure a co-ordinated development of the activities in the various geographical areas. Participants may begin to register already now with the EAAE National Representatives and with the NSCs, as soon as they have begun to function.
The ISC has begun to solicit input to the programme from all sides. It will meet again in early September in order to determine in more detail the various activities which will take place during Phases 1-3 of the project. Additional meetings are planned later.
A provisional description of the Astronomy On-Line project was first presented to the European Commission, represented by DG XII and XXII, on April 11, 1996, at the time of a joint planning meeting in Brussels for the 4th European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture (EWSTC) in late 1996. A more detailed plan was submitted at a follow-up meeting on May 29, 1996.
On both occasions, this project was very well received and it was felt that it represents well the ideals of the EWSTC. In the meantime, further contacts have been made with the EU Task Force 'Educational Software and Multimedia' and Socrates - Comenius programmes.
In view of the relatively short time still remaining before the stipulated beginning of the active phase of Astronomy On-Line, October 1, 1996, the EAAE Executive Council and the ISC have decided to announce the programme already now, in its present form. This will be done via dedicated WWW Homepages at EAAE and ESO, by means of posters (around July 1) and also an ESO Press Release, to be issued on June 18, 1996. As the planning progresses, more information will become available; it will be displayed on the Web without delay.
It is hoped that all interested persons will spread information about this unique project, so that Astronomy On-Line may become a truly impressive and useful event. The ISC and the NSCs welcome all comments and ideas from astronomy-interested persons which will help to widen the scope and ensure its ultimate success! Contact adresses are found on the main WWW Homepages (http://www.eso.org/astronomyonline/ and http://www.algonet.se/~sirius/eaae.htm ) for this project.