Press Release

"Europe Towards the Stars"


7 June 1995

With the above title, and following the very successful events of the past two years [1], ESO again organises an "educational adventure" in 1995. It takes place within the framework of the "Third European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture", initiated and supported by the European Commission. This time ESO will invite about fifty 17-18 year old grammar school pupils with their teachers to try their skills at one of the world's most advanced astronomical telescopes.

The young people are the winners of a Europe-wide astronomy contest that will take place during the summer and early autumn. The main event involves a free, week-long stay at the Headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in November this year. During this time, the participants will experience modern astronomy and astrophysics at one of the world's foremost international centres and also have the opportunity to perform remote observations via a satellite link with two telescopes at the ESO La Silla observatory in Chile.


This year's programme will begin with national competitions in sixteen European countries. It is devised as a contest between joint teams of pupils and teachers. Each team is expected to consist of (up to) three pupils and their teacher. They can choose between four different subjects requiring either practical or theoretical work. Each subject has a strong scientific and technological component. Here are short descriptions:

At the telescope - Catching and interpreting the signals.

"You observe with an existing telescope and instrument of your own choice. In your observational report you describe the scientific goal, the capability of your equipment, the execution of the observation. You discuss the observational data including an error analysis, and describe the conclusions."

Technology for Science - Building an Instrument.

"You build an astronomical instrument (e.g. a photometer or a spectrograph, fitted with the associated detector). In the instrument documentation, you describe the instrument, its design, construction and the test results."

A Future Space Mission - Designing an on-board Instrument.

"You design an instrument for a future space mission to the outer Solar System. The purpose is to carry out observations of Pluto and Transneptunian Objects. Describe the design, the physical/chemical principles of the instrument and the observations to be made with it. Give examples of some possible results."

Theory - Looking into the Future.

"You describe a stable planetary system around another star. Your report contains a description of the conditions (inner structure, composition, surface features, atmosphere) of the planets. What are the technical requirements for observing this system from the Earth? Which kind of observations of these objects can be done with available instruments?"

None of these subjects are easy to treat, but experience has shown that thanks to very dedicated teachers, the teaching of astronomy takes place at a surprisingly high level at many of Europe's schools. The establishment of the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) last year has also resulted in a Europe-wide, increasing interest in these matters and many EAAE members actively promote the present contest and participate in the organisation. Many good entries are therefore expected.

The participation is open to pupils in their last or second-to-last year before baccalaureate. In each country, a National Committee has been established that will organise the contest and evaluate the responses. In most cases, the closing date is early October 1995, and the national award ceremonies will take place in early November.

Detailed information about this programme may be obtained from the National Committees at the addresses below.


The members of the winning teams from each country will be invited to spend an exciting and informative week at the ESO Headquarters in Garching near Munich (Germany) in mid-November 1995. Here they will experience front-line science and partake in the daily life of one of Europe's foremost scientific establishments. Assisted by professional astronomers, they will prepare and carry out real astronomical observations with the 1.4-metre CAT (Coude Auxiliary Telescope) and the very advanced 3.5-metre NTT (New Technology Telescope) from ESO's remote control centre. They will also begin the treatment of the registered data and, if possible, arrive at tentative interpretations.

The week will undoubtedly be very hectic, but it will of course also include events of a more social character which will further emphasize the pan-European nature of this unique visit.

ESO will provide more details about this programme in early November 1995, including the planned media coverage.


For further information about the programme "Europe Towards The Stars", please contact the National Committee in your country.

Austria: Prof. H. Mucke, Astronomisches Buero, Hasenwartgasse 32, A-1138 Vienna, Tel. 0043-1-8893541

Belgium: Dr. C. Sterken, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Campus Ofenplein, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Tel. 0032-2-6293469, Fax 0032-9-3623976, E-mail

Denmark: Mr. B. F. Joergensen, Tycho Brahe Planetariet, Gl. Kongevej 10, DK-1610 Copenhagen V, Tel. 0045-33-144888, Fax 0045-33-142888, E-mail

Finland: Mr. M. Hotakainen, Tahtitieteellinen Yhdistys Ursa Ry, Laivanvarustajankatu 9C 54, FIN-00140 Helsinki, Tel. 00358-0-174048, Fax 00358-0-657728

France: Mr. B. Pellequer, Geospace d'Aniane, Boîte Postale 22, F-34150 Aniane, Tel. 0033-6-7034949, Fax 0033-6-7752864

Germany: Dr. K.-H. Lotze, Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet, Max-Wien-Platz 1, D-07743 Jena, Germany, Tel. +49-3641-635904/636654, Fax +49-3641-636728

Greece: Dr. D. Simopoulos, Eugenides Foundation, Astronomy Department, 387 Sygrou Avenue, Palaio Faliro, GR-175 64 Athens, Tel. 0030-1-941-1181, Fax 0030-1-941-7372

Ireland: Dr I. Elliot, Dunsink Observatory (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies), Castleknock, Dublin 15, Tel. 00353-1- 838-7911/7959, Fax 00353-1-8387090, E-mail

Italy: Prof. F. Pacini, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo Enrico Fermi 5, I-50125 Florence, Tel. 0039-55-2752246, Fax 0039-55-220039, E-mail

Luxemburg: Dr. F. Wagner, Laboratoire de Physique, Lycee de Garcons d'Esch, BP 195, L-4002 Esch/Alzette, Tel. 00352-556285, Fax 00352-570994

The Netherlands: Dr. H. Lamers, Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, Princetonplein 5, Postbus 80.000, NL-3508 TA Utrecht, Tel. 0031-30-535200, Fax 0031-30531601, email

Portugal: Dr. T. Lago, Centro de Astrofisico, Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre 823, P-4150 Porto, Tel. 00351-2-6007081, Fax 00351-2-6007982, E-mail

Spain: Dr. Asuncion Sanchez/Dr Telmo Fernandez, Planetario de Madrid, Parque Tierno Galvan, E-28045 Madrid, Tel. 0034-1-4673578, Fax 0034-1-4681154, E-mail

Sweden: Dr. Kerstin Loden, Stockholms Observatorium, S-133 36 Saltsjoebaden, Tel. 0046-8-164454, Fax 0046-8-7174719, e-mail

Switzerland: Mr. M. Wieland, Schweizer Jugend Forscht/La Science Appelle les Jeunes, Technoramastrasse 1, CH-8404 Winterthur, Tel. 0041-52-2424440, Fax 0041-52-2422967

United Kingdom: Dr A. M. Cohen, Dane Valley High School, Jackson Road, Congleton, Cheshire CW12 1NT, England, United Kingdom, Tel. +44-260-273000, Fax +44-260-297352 (until July 1, 1995). The National Committee for the United Kingdom, c/o The Association for Astronomy Education, 9 Hurst Lane, Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 5LN, England (after July 1, 1995).

[1] See eso9309 of 5 November 1993 and eso9417 of 2 December 1994.

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About the Release

Release No.:eso9507
Legacy ID:PR 06/95
Name:Contest, Education
Type:Unspecified : People