The Hong Kong Space Museum's latest sky show, "We are Astronomers", which is screening until June 30, shows the audience the latest methods used by astronomers to explore the universe. They will be introduced to modern astronomical studies, a variety of sophisticated equipment and technology, and learn more about the mysteries of the stars.
Since the invention of the telescope by Italian astronomer Galileo around four hundred years ago, astronomers have become, in many people's eyes, those who pass the night gazing upwards with giant telescopes, recording changes among the myriad stars in the heavens and calculating the various patterns of celestial bodies through intricate observations. In reality however, modern astronomers undergo their studies in ways that are free from such nocturnal restrictions. Astronomers need not even use a telescope to learn about the mysteries of the universe.
The sky show "We are Astronomers" introduces viewers to the latest contraptions and methods used by astronomers to explore the universe. These include the "Very Large Telescope" which is located 2,600 metres above sea level on the Paranal Mountain in Chile, South America, the new "James Webb Space Telescope" (JWST) scheduled to be launched by the United States in 2014, and the world's largest particle accelerator, the "Large Hadron Collider" (LHC), in Europe.
The Chile-based "Very Large Telescope" was built by the European Southern Observatory, an astronomical body established by 14 European countries. It consists of four separate giant telescopes, each of which can collect one hundred thousand times more light than Galileo's telescope did four hundred years ago. It is one of the most advanced optical telescopes in the world.
The JWST is an international collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. The NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre is responsible for overall management. JWST represents a new generation infrared telescope, and is scheduled for launch in 2014. JWST's missions will involve a wide range of research areas which include searching for planetary systems suitable for life, understanding the evolution of stars and planets and formation of galaxies, as well as the birth of the first stars and galaxies in the early universe soon after the Big Bang.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research built the LHC 100 metres underground on the French/Swiss border. The LHC is a 27-kilometre-long, super-cooled race track. Beams of atomic particles are accelerated around tubes until they approach close to the speed of light and are then forced to collide. Scientists believe that such collisions will reproduce the conditions present shortly after the universe came into existence.
Today, the interplanetary spacecrafts of many countries depend on the Deep Space Network to transmit data and maintain communications with the Earth. Every day, thousands of batches of data with quantity in gigabytes are being collected by both space- and ground-based observatories. The huge amount of data collected by many countries requires the worldwide co-operation of astronomers, scientists, engineers and even amateur star lovers, in order to unveil the mystery of the universe.
The 40-minute sky show, "We are Astronomers", features a 15-minute seasonal planetarium show. It will be screened daily at 2.40pm and 6.10pm at the Museum's Stanley Ho Space Theatre. There will be an additional screening at 11.10am on Sundays and public holidays. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Lunar New Year. On Chinese New Year's Eve, it will close at 5pm.
Tickets are available at the Space Museum Box Office and at all URBTIX outlets for $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls). Full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above and people with disabilities will receive a half-price concession.
The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. For further information, call 2721 0226 or visit the website at http://hk.space.musuem.
Ends/Friday, January 7, 2011