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A Passage to the Universe

Exciting Week Ahead for Winners of Unique Astronomy Contest

08 Novembre 1995

Following the very successful events of 1993 and 1994 [1], ESO again opens its doors for an 'educational adventure' next week. It takes place within the framework of the 'Third European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture', initiated and supported by the European Commission. On Tuesday, November 14, 1995, about forty 16-18 year old students and their teachers will converge towards Munich from all corners of Europe. They are the happy winners of a Europe-wide astronomy contest (`Europe Towards the Stars') that took place during the summer and early autumn. Their prize is a free, week-long stay at the Headquarters of the European Southern Observatory. During this time they will work with professional astronomers and get a hands-on experience within modern astronomy and astrophysics at one of the world's foremost international centres.

In particular, the participants will be exposed to the scientific method by carrying through a research programme of their own, all the way from conception to interpretation of the data. The culmination of the stay will be the opportunity to perform remote observations via a satellite link with two major telescopes at the ESO La Silla observatory in Chile, including the very advanced 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT).

The European Contest

This year's EU/ESO programme was devised as a contest between joint teams of secondary school students and their teachers. The teams had to choose between four different subjects requiring either practical or theoretical work, and all with strong scientific and technological components.

One subject was to devise an observational programme with an existing telescope and instrument and to discuss the resulting data in order to arrive at a scientific conclusion. This was the preferred subject by many teams. For instance, the winning German team observed the moons of Jupiter and the Danish team studied a star cluster in order to derive its age and other characteristics.

The second subject, to build and test an astronomical instrument, posed a welcome challenge to teams with a particular interest in technology. Some of the instruments were quite advanced; in France, for instance, the winning team built a working solar radio interferometer.

In the same direction, but with a more theoretical touch, some teams chose the third subject, to design on paper an instrument for a future space mission to the outer Solar System for the exploration of Pluto and the newly discovered Transneptunian Objects.

The last subject, which secured the first prize for the Dutch winning team, concerned the study of a hypothetical, stable planetary system around another star, its properties and the technical requirements for observing this system from the Earth. With the recent discovery of a planet around the nearby star 51 Pegasi, this theme has unexpectedly gained added relevance.

During the past few weeks, the work by the teams was evaluated by specially established, national juries, consisting of scientists, educators and ministerial representatives (addresses below). The establishment of the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) last year contributed to the Europe-wide interest in these matters and many EAAE members have been involved in the present contest, as participants or in its organisation.

The national winners have now been selected; their names are listed below. In most countries, the award ceremonies have already taken place.

Media Coverage

The main event, i.e. the stay of the winning teams at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Germany) from November 14 - 20, 1995, will be covered by the various media in the appropriate ways. More information, including a detailed programme of the many (day and night) activities during this event, may be obtained at request from the ESO Education and Public Relations Department at the Headquarters.

In this connection, ESO is also pleased to invite the media to a concluding Press Conference, during which the outcome of this unique event will be summarized by the participants and the organisers:

Monday, November 20, 1995, 15:30 pm, at the ESO Headquarters, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, D-85748 Garching, Germany

List of National First-Prize Winners

Belgium: Mr. Freddy Allemeersch (Teacher), Mr. Pieter De Ceuninck, Mr. Jeroen Staelens (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwecollege, Brugge)

Denmark: Mr. Joern C. Olsen, Mr. Henrik Struckmann, Mr. Uffe A. Hansen, Mr. Mogens Winther (Teacher) (Soenderborg Amtsgymnasium)

Finland: Mr. Reima Eresmaa, Ms. Laura Elina Nykyri, Ms. Reetamaija Janhonen (Cygnaeues-Lukeo, Jyvaeskylae and Jyvaeskylaen Lyseon Lukeo)

France: Mr. Rene Cavaroz (Teacher), Mr. Vincent Hardy, Mr. Antoine Lesuffleur (Lycee Chartier, Bayeux)

Germany: Ms. Dorothee Barth, Mr. Walter Czech (Teacher), Mr. Uwe Kranz, Ms. Karin Wieland (Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg)

Greece: Ms. Agni Ioannidi, Ms. Elena Katifori, Mr. Vassilis Samiotis, Mr. Vassillos Tzotzes (Teacher) (Second Varvakelo Experimental Lyceum, Athens)

Ireland: Mr. Declan Maccuarta (Teacher), Mr. Colm Mcloughlin (St. Peter's College, Wexford, Co. Wexford)

Italy: Mr. Pasquale Ciarletta, Ms. Francesca D'elia, Ms. Ada Fortugna (Teacher), Mr. Alfredo Pudano (Liceo Scientifico 'Leonardo da Vinci', Reggio Calabria)

The Netherlands: Mr. Alex De Beer, Mr. Klaas Huijbregts, Mr. Ruud Nellen (Norbertuscollege, Rosendaal)

Spain: Mr. Aritz Atela Aio, Mr. Julen Sarasola Manich (Teacher), Mr. Jon Huertas Rodriquez (Txorierri Batxilergoko Institua, Derio Bizkaia)

Sweden: Mr. Rahman Amanullah, Mr. Kjell L. Bonander (Teacher), Mr. Tomas Oppelstrup, Ms. Christin Wiedemann (Saltsjoebadens Samskola, Saltsjoebaden)

United Kingdom: Mr. Michael Ching, Dr. Richard Field (Teacher) (Oundle School, Peterborough)

National Committees

Further information about the national contests may be obtained from the National Committees:

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, Taehtitieteellinen Yhdistys Ursa, Laivanvarustajankatu 9C 54, FIN-00140 Helsinki, Tel. 00358-0-174048, Fax 00358-0-657728

France: Mr. B. Pellequer, Geospace d'Aniane, Boite 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: Dr. B. Monsignori Fossi, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo Enrico Fermi 5, I-50125 Florence, Tel. 0039-55-2752246, Fax 0039-55-220039, E-mail

The Netherlands: Dr. M. Drummen, Stichting 'De Koepel', Zonnenburg 2, NL-3512 NL Utrecht, Tel. 0031-30-311360, Fax 0031-30-342852, E-mail

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

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

United Kingdom: Dr. A. M. Cohen, c/o The Association for Astronomy Education, 9 Hurst Lane, Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 5LN, England


[1] See eso9309 and eso9417

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Comunicato Stampa N":eso9529
Legacy ID:PR 14/95
Nome:Contest, Education
Tipo:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory