People who have been wondering how oceans form, yearning to experience Galileo’s excitement as he experimented with free-falling objects at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or who simply want to walk hand-in-hand with their beloved down the Magpie Bridge as in the legend “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl,” may want to visit the National Science Council’s (NSC) science festival this year.
The month-long festival, titled “Four Hundred Years of Heaven Gazing,” commemorates the beginning of astronomy four centuries ago in 1609 when Galileo Galilei pointed the first telescope to the sky, Deputy National Science Council Minister Chang Wen-Chuang (張文昌) said.
To celebrate four centuries of achievements, the festival, which opens on Aug. 8 and runs to Sept. 13 in Taipei’s Liberty Square, will have 10 exhibitions, with themes ranging from “Solar System Hall” and “Astronomical History” to “Romantic Starry Night,” he said.
“The exhibition will blend Oriental and Western astronomical elements with multimedia — for example, the sky as observed from ancient Chinese historical materials, such as the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) and The Records of the Grand Historian (史記), will be presented with projectors for visitors,” Chang said.
Sun Wei-hsin (孫維新), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Astrophysics, which is in charge of the council’s festival this year, said he hoped to inspire more public interest in astronomy through the exhibitions.
A series of weekend seminars and talks will be hosted by local and foreign scientists as well as local artists — including Sun, writer Chang Ta-chun (張大春) and cartoonist Jimmy — while the main exhibition will have something for everyone, Sun said.
“Visitors will get to see three manuscripts written by 16th century astronomy giant Johannes Kepler, hard-to-come-by video footage of the sky taken at the Hawaiian Observatory and experiments with free-falling objects at a model of the Tower of Pisa,” Sun said.
Lovers who want to experience a special Chinese Valentine’s Day on July 7 of the lunar calendar are recommended to visit the exhibition’s multimedia Magpie Bridge, where digital magpies will gather beneath people’s feet as they walk, Sun said.
“In past years we have received between 100,000 and 110,000 visitors at our science festivals, but with the quality of this year’s exhibits we are expecting many more,” Sun said.
UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union declared this year the International Year of Astronomy commemorate Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the skies and Kepler’s publication of Astronomia Nova.
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