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Space Museum takes audience to the universe via the Hubble Space Telescope
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The Hong Kong Space Museum is now staging the latest Sky Show "Hubble Space Telescope" until November 6. It takes the audience on a journey through the universe via the Hubble Space Telescope, venturing from the closest planets to the most distant galaxies.

Stars twinkling in the night sky bring spectacular views. Yet to astronomers, the twinkling of stars is caused by unstable atmospheric conditions which pose an obstacle to observation. To overcome this problem, astronomer Lyman Spitzer in 1946 proposed constructing a space telescope.

After years of lobbying, frustrations, financial and technical problems, the big idea was finally realised in 1990. A telescope named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble was launched. The Hubble Space Telescope used a huge concave mirror to focus light onto the cameras behind.

After Hubble had been operating for a short period, astronomers found that the images being sent back were blurred. The catastrophic result was just caused by a two-micron discrepancy on the primary mirror. In 1993, astronauts installed the corrective optics for Hubble and it was finally able to display its true power.

Hubble has taken many valuable pictures. In 1994, it captured the historic event of a comet smashing into Jupiter. Taking snapshots of stars at different stages of evolution, Hubble allowed astronomers to study the birth and death of stars in detail. On a larger scale, the life and death of galaxies was revealed in collisions of galaxies. Hubble also captured a spectacular pair of galaxies engaged in a celestial dance. The galaxies will eventually merge into a single giant galaxy.

The greatest discovery of Hubble was probably the observation of a featureless region for 10 consecutive days to collect the dimmest light. Unexpectedly, the remotest and earliest galaxies showed up. Hubble's deepest view of the universe uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least 1,500 galaxies at various stages of evolution. Most of the galaxies are so faint and had never been seen by even the largest telescopes. Hubble allows people to look further away and back in time while enabling astronomers to explore the future of the universe.

After years of operation, some instruments of Hubble are out of order. The last service mission which took place in March, 2002, replaced the solar panels, power supply and cameras. Among the original six gyroscopes, two have failed and only two are used for daily operation. The Hubble battery is also starting to age. The original plan for a service mission in 2004 was put off because of the explosion of the space shuttle. But now the plan is being reconsidered.

Scientists now begin to study the possibility of building telescopes on the moon. It is expected that more spectacular images and detailed figures could be obtained. With that data, astronomers can explore in unprecedented paradigms and help unveil the mystery of the universe.

The 40-minute Sky Show "Hubble Space Telescope" 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 Space Museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).

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 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/Thursday, June 15, 2006
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