The Hong Kong Space Museum announced today (October 28) that its Stanley Ho Space Theatre would be closed from November 17, 2008, to June 30, 2009, for renovation and replacement of the planetarium projector. The Curator of the Space Museum, Mr Chan Ki-hung, said it would be the first time that the theatre is carrying out such a large-scale refurbishment since its opening in 1980.
Mr Chan said: "The budget for the refurbishment is about $34 million. The project scope is to install a new digital planetarium projector and replace the seats with an interactive system."
"With a resolution exceeding 48 million pixels, the new digital planetarium projector system boasts the highest resolution in the world. Only a handful of planetaria elsewhere are installed with a projector of such a high resolution. The new system can project full dome animations or movies. Visitors can see the starry sky of their own choice of time and place in the universe. They can experience flying into space to visit stars or other celestial objects and to view the object rendered in a 3D model. The system also allows future expansion such as upgrading to project 3D full dome images."
"The new seats will be installed with a multilingual facility that allows narration in more than four languages for a show. The newly designed display unit installed on the armrest of the seat will allow individual viewers to select language and use the interactive features, such as short message service among the audience and participation in real-time games," Mr Chan said.
Apart from the refurbishment of the Space Theatre, Mr Chan said that renovation of the museum's exhibition halls would be carried out in 2011. He said: "The scope will include improvement of the infrastructure in the existing two exhibition halls, as well as design, prototyping, fabrication and installation of new exhibits. All the existing exhibits in the Hall of Space Science and the Hall of Astronomy will be replaced by newly designed exhibits installed in a virtual reality environment, enabling visitors to experience travelling through space and time."
He added: "The main theme of the new exhibition halls and the detailed exhibit design will be chosen based on the input from professional exhibit designers after consulting the honorary museum advisers."
"For the exhibition hall on the ground floor, the basic design concept is to make use of the existing circular and unidirectional nature of the gallery to relate the evolution of the universe. Visitors will venture into a dimmed and mysterious space environment with varied lighting, wall murals and elaborate decorations. A new set of exhibits, 'Reach for Your Star', will be added. It will enable visitors to navigate to another planet or even another galaxy of their choice to appreciate the sky from a different perspective and dimension."
"The major theme of the exhibition hall on the first floor after renovation will be on space exploration and the Sun-Earth relationship. Visitors will experience what life is like in space through a futuristic and surrealistic environment highlighting the high-tech nature of space technology. In the proposed exhibit, 'How You Feel in Space', visitors will experience disorientation in weightless space and understand the unusual physical properties of matter by entering an upside down virtual space station."
Mr Chan said that the budget for renovating the exhibition halls would be about $32 million and it would take half a year to complete.
Meanwhile, the two new developmental projects of the Space Museum will be completed in the coming months. They are the Hong Kong Space Museum Sai Kung iObservatory which will open to the public next month (November), and the Astropark which is under construction at the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre, Sai Kung, and is expected to be completed early next year.
The Hong Kong Space Museum Sai Kung iObservatory, a three-storey building with a floor area of 270 square metres, is situated in Lady MacLehose Holiday Village, Sai Kung. The total project cost is $7.3 million, of which $4.8 million is the construction cost and $2.5 million, a sponsorship from the Quality Education Fund, is for the purchase of equipment, development of the control system and provision of astronomical training to teachers.
The iObservatory houses a 60 cm Cassegrain telescope, the largest professional telescope in Hong Kong, inside a dome on the roof. Under ideal sky conditions, the telescope has a visual limiting magnitude of 15, meaning that users can observe celestial objects 4,000 times dimmer than those just visible to the naked eye. A professional 11 million pixels CCD camera is attached to the telescope for astrophotography.
The Space Museum joins with the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village to organise star-gazing activities for the public. For details, please visit the Space Museum's website at http://hk.space.museum/.
Located in Chong Hing Water Sports Centre, Sai Kung, the Astropark is the first theme park equipped with star-gazing facilities. The $3 million project is scheduled to be completed early next year.
The Astropark has an area of about 1,200 square metres and is divided into three zones: an observation area for amateur astronomers, a naked-eye observation area for casual users and an education zone for daytime use. Four sets of binoculars, specially designed for easy viewing of any direction in the sky, will be installed in the telescopic observation area so that visitors can use them to view celestial objects at night. Ten telescope piers will be installed in the Astropark for amateur astronomers to use their own telescopes without the trouble of carrying heavy tripods. The educational zone will house replicas of ancient Chinese astronomical instruments, such as an exact replica of the Ming Armillary Sphere and a shadow sundial with which visitors can use their own shadows to tell the time.
Ends/Tuesday, October 28, 2008