Snowballs in space shatter comet myth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 April, 1997, 12:00am

People now look forward to sighting a comet but for many centuries comets were believed to have an evil influence on human affairs.

In particular, they were thought to foretell plagues, wars, and death. However, with the development of astronomy, comets are no longer mystical celestial objects.

A comet resembles a large, dirty snowball which dashes through the vast reaches of the solar system.

Those interested in knowing more about comets should not miss the new Sky Show Comets of the Century in the Space Theatre of Hong Kong Space Museum.

The show explains the structure and appearance of comets, and introduces the Comet Hale-Bopp which recently returned to our solar system.

Comets are thought to consist of about 25 per cent dust, chunks of rocky or metallic material and about 75 per cent ice.

The ice contains a mixture of compounds including methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide radicals, or subunits of molecules.

The show recounts the story of the discovery of Comet Hale-Bopp.

It also offers helpful information for observation Comet Hale-Bopp.

A photography exhibition was launched by United Artist Photographic Association at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on Sunday.

It consisted mainly of insightful and cleverly-captured portraits which involved fascinating uses of filter and colour. I was particularly impressed by a portrait of a crumpled woman, appropriately entitled 'Old'.