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Stargazers flock to Astropark and vantage points as meteor shower peaks

lcsd.gov.hk

Hong Kong Space Museum’s Astropark, near the High Island Reservoir. Credit: lcsd.gov.hk

The peaking of the Perseid meteor shower last night brought thousands of stargazers to Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay, worsening the usual transport chaos. At Astropark, High Island, Clearwater Bay country park, Wong Shek pier and on the ridges of hills, people scanned the sky hoping to see 60 to 100 meteors an hour. It was a clear night, but the brightness of a waning Gibbous moon reduced visibility.

The Perseids are tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. They are named after the constellation Perseus because they appear to come from the same part of the northeast sky where you can also see the constellation. One of the brightest meteor showers of the year, Perseids will continue to appear in the night sky until August 24. Watch from dark places and the best time is just before dawn. The Perseids can be seen with the naked eye. Romantics think of them as the tears of St Lawrence, the martyred Christian saint.

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Sai Kung Info reported night-time crowds queuing for taxis, buses and minibuses were longer than usual on a Saturday night in good weather. Many youngsters hiked out to Astropark with camping gear to stay overnight. The new golf cart-like transport that District Officer Maureen Siu said the Government is considering for the country park has yet to emerge.

For those who haven’t been there, Astropark is well worth a visit, especially with children. It is located at the Chong Hing water sports centre, west cofferdam, High island reservoir. You will find an educational area displaying Chinese and western astronomical instruments from ancient times, including a replica of a Ming dynasty celestial globe. There are also two observational areas: one for the naked eye with inclined benches and one for budding astronomers with telescopes, binoculars and a star tracker. Entry is free, but if you want to use electricity while camping you need to book.

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