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Catch a Star!

... and discover all its secrets!


In 2002, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) welcomed all students in Europe's schools to this exciting web-based programme with a competition . It took place within the context of the EC-sponsored European Week of Science and Technology (EWST) - 2002.

This programme is now over and all relevant information can be found via the links at the left of this page.

The "Catch a Star!" Project

This unique project revolved around a web-based competition and was centred on astronomy. It was specifically conceived to stimulate the interest of young people in various aspects of this well-known field of science, but was also of interest to the broad public.

Groups of up to four persons (e.g., three students and one teacher) had to select an astronomical object - a bright star, a distant galaxy, a beautiful comet, a planet or a moon in the solar system, or some other celestial body.

Like detectives, they should then find as much information as possible about "their" object. This information could be about the position and visibility in the sky, the physical and chemical characteristics, particular historical aspects, related mythology and sky lore, etc.

They had to produce a short summarising report (in HTML format; with images and text) about this investigation and the object, and send it to ESO before November 1, 2002. A jury, consisting of specialists from ESO and the EAAE, carefully evaluated these reports and all projects that were found to fullfil the stipulated requirements then received a lottery number, with the possibility to win some interesting prizes . The first one was a free trip in early 2003 for the members of the group to the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile, the site of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) .

The Outcome

A total of 174 reports were submitted and it was a very difficult task to evaluate all of these. In the end, 134 were accepted, an excellent percentage. Many of them were very good and all represent a lot of hard work by their authors. The lottery drawing took place at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Germany) on November 8, 2002, at 13 hrs and was webcasted live. A list of the winners is also available.

The accepted reports are now available on the web - they can be accessed from the individual "object" and "country" files, listed here . The first prize was won by Kamelia Mircheva, Ina Peneva and Gergana Todorova with their teacher Natasha Ivanova , all from Varna (Bulgaria).

The numerous reports constitute a treasure trove of interesting information about many different astronomical objects. Students and teachers will find here much useful material and, not least, a lot of inspiration.

The jury cordially congratulates all successful participants!

All winners will receive their prizes shortly. Arrangements are also being made for the visits.


Please direct any further questions to the jury by email via: