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Publication and Press Releases
2008
November
LCSD's first local iObservatory opens soon
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     The newly completed Hong Kong Space Museum Sai Kung iObservatory will soon go into service.

     Situated in Lady MacLehose Holiday Village, Sai Kung, the iObservatory is the first of its kind in Hong Kong. It was established by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and is run by the Hong Kong Space Museum.

     The three-storey iObservatory occupies a floor area of 270 square metres. 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 taking part in a training scheme.

     The iObservatory houses a 60cm 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, enabling users to 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 main function of the observatory dome is to protect the telescope and other equipment installed on the rooftop from bad weather. The temperature inside the dome is slightly higher than outdoors to prevent condensation on the surface of the equipment. In case of heavy showers, the area affected by rainfall inside the dome, which has only one small opening, will be smaller than that inside an observatory adopting the roll-off design. The iObservatory’s six-metre onion dome allows an unobstructed view of the sky.

     Users can take professional astrophotographs remotely at home using the 60cm telescope through the Internet. During the current trial run, this service is available only to schools joining the Quality Education Fund’s project so as to facilitate tests of and modifications to the system. It will be opened to the public when the system is ready. 

     The iObservatory is equipped with an automatic weather monitoring system. Its primary function is to determine suitable times for opening the shutter of the observatory dome for astrophotography, and to protect the equipment inside the dome by closing the shutter when or even before it rains.

     The automatic weather monitoring system also enables the iObservatory to work remotely. The system includes an automatic weather station, a cloud sensor and an all sky camera.  Using a series of electronic detectors, the automatic weather station measures temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction, wind speed, rainfall, intensity of UV radiation and solar radiation. Such data will be transmitted to the computer controlling the weather monitoring system for processing, and uploaded in real-time to the museum’s website for users to learn about the weather conditions at the iObservatory.

     The Space Museum joins with the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village to organise stargazing activities for campers at the Holiday Village to experience the fun of stargazing and enjoy the beautiful night sky. Conducted in Cantonese, a series of programmes will be launched in the coming months. For details, please visit the Space Museum’s website at http://hk.space.museum/ or the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village’s website at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/camp/b5/p_lmhv.php.

Ends/Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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The Hong Kong Space Museum Sai Kung iObservatory in the Lady Maclehose Holiday Village, Sai Kung.

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The 60-cm Cassegrain telescope, the largest professional telescope in Hong Kong, is the centrepiece of the iObservatory.

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The iObservatory dome which protects the telescope and other equipment installed under it. The six-metre, onion-shaped dome gives observers an unobstructed view of the sky.

 

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