Catch a Star!

... and discover all its secrets!

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  • This competition is closed. Find out more about ESO's current educational material and activities on our education pages!

This famous educational programme returns for its fourth year, with new prizes including a trip to Chile, and more ways to enter the competition.

ESO and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) again welcome school students to this exciting web-based competition.

The entries for the drawing competition are now online.

The winners of the competition have been announced! You can find their list here.


On a dark night, far from city lights, you can see about three thousand stars in the sky with the unaided eye. With binoculars you can see more than ten thousand, and with a small telescope even more celestial objects become visible.

The Milky Way Galaxy in which we live contains hundreds of billions of stars, clouds of cosmic dust, stellar clusters, and a massive black hole in its centre. These objects are spread over more than a hundred thousand light years, making our own Solar System just a tiny speck in the Galaxy. And that is just our own Galaxy: beyond the Milky Way, there are also hundreds of billions more!

These celestial objects are all very distant, and very large. The stars are too far away for us to visit them even in the fastest spacecraft, but there's another way for you to "catch a star" by taking part in ESO's competition. Select an astronomical object - such as a star, a distant galaxy, a beautiful comet, planets, moons, or a nebula - and write an article about it to learn and share some of its secrets!

Just like astronomers do, you can form teams to research your chosen object, and use scientific detective work to find out as much as possible about it. Younger contestants can take part in the competition by making a drawing of the object you have selected.

You could also choose as your topic a celestial event or phenomenon, such as a solar or lunar eclipse, the Northern or Southern Lights, or a meteor shower like the Leonids. Or, write about a visit to an observatory, describing the ways in which it studies the object you have chosen.

The "Catch a Star!" 2005 contest will have three categories:

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3

Prizes include trips to observatories in Chile, Austria, Germany, and Spain.

Open for contributions that fulfil certain requirements (see "How to enter"). Will be judged by an international jury.

Prizes include astronomy DVDs, CD-ROMs, and posters.

Open for contributions that fulfil certain minimum requirements (see "How to enter"). There is no assessment by a jury, and the winners are selected by lottery.

Prizes include astronomy T-shirts and posters.

This category is a drawing contest. Winners are selected by a combination of lottery and popular vote.