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Space Museum introduces the small bodies in the solar system

In late August 2006, the International Astronomical Union passed a resolution to strip Pluto of its planetary status. As a result, only eight planets were left in the solar system, together with other small members, including asteroids, comets, dwarf planets and trans-Neptunian objects.

Those who wish to learn more about the solar system should not miss the latest Sky Show, "Small Solar System Bodies", which is running at the Hong Kong Space Museum until May 30, 2007. It traces the discovery of these small members and explains how astronomers study these extremely remote and small celestial bodies.

Though the total mass of all these small members of the solar system is less than 1% of the total mass of all major planets, their numbers greatly exceed that of the major planets. Astronomers estimate there may be hundreds of thousands of small members orbiting the Sun. However, the largest one is less than 3,000 kilometres in diameter.

These small bodies may look unimportant, but they may have a significant impact on life on earth. They may have led to the disappearance of certain life forms on Earth and brought about water and life to our planet. Comets, for example, may have sparked life on earth while asteroids, colliding with the Earth, may have brought about drastic climate change that led to the extinction of dinosaurs. The study of these small bodies helps us understand the past, and maybe even the future, of humankind.

The 40-minute Sky Show "Small Solar System Bodies" 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 will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year.

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 .

Ends/Friday, December 15, 2006

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