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Stargazing Event To Show Wonders Of The Universe

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Updated on Feb 07, 2009

The largest collective stargazing activity ever organised on the harbourfront will be held this evening to kick off a series of events to mark International Year Astronomy 2009. About 100 telescopes will be placed along Avenue of Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront promenade at 6pm, giving members of the public a chance to get a glimpse of the universe.

The event is organised by the IYA 2009 Hong Kong League, a coalition of astronomy groups and amateur stargazers who want to popularise the activity among Hongkongers.

“Stargazing has become a hot topic and more people have been talking about it after the first Chinese spacewalk mission. It will be good for us to keep up the momentum,” said Leung Kam-cheung, spokesman for the league.

Similar activities might be held in each of the 18 districts, if the right venues could be located, to give the public a better opportunity to learn what stargazing was about, he said.

The climax of the celebrations would be a “star party” for 1,000 people at the end of this year at the Sai Kung Astropark, now under construction next to a water sports centre near the High Island Reservoir.

The park, the first of its kind in the city, will provide permanent facilities for stargazers and education materials for the public.

Although worsening air and light pollution were the biggest obstacles to stargazers in the city, most people were actually very curious and interested in astronomy, Mr Leung said.

“Many of them had thought there were no stars or planets visible from our city, and were very surprised when we pointed out that Venus and Jupiter could be seen with the naked eye,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it is tragic that most Hong Kong people have lost their clear night sky to light pollution and haze. They can hardly see eight stars in the sky, let alone a galaxy.”

Mr Leung said the league would continue to talk to the government about setting up “night sky conservation zones” – areas where light pollution would be restricted – within country parks, or in the vicinity of the Astropark, to be managed by the Space Museum.

He said one of its key aims this year was to minimise light pollution in the city.

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