On 2 March, 1883, Dr. William Doberck was appointed the first Director of the Hong Kong Observatory. 120 years and 12 directors on, the Observatory celebrated its anniversary today.
120 years has a special meaning to the Observatory because in Chinese calendar and time keeping, it equals two cycles of the "Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches" and carries the connotation of blessed completeness. This association of the 120th anniversary with one of the first duties of the Observatory since its inception - provision of time service - is quintessential of the history of the Observatory's service.
The Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, the Honourable Stephen Ip, and the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Economic Development), Ms Sandra Lee officiated at the time capsule laying ceremony today at the Headquarters of the Hong Kong Observatory. They were accompanied by the Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Dr H K Lam and staff representatives.
Mr Ip's choice for the time capsule was a set of a DVD and a VCD of two documentary TV series jointly produced by the Observatory and RTHK. These are of historical significance as they are milestones of the Observatory's effort to reach out to the public and to promote the importance of preparedness against natural disasters.
Ms Lee's choice for the time capsule was a card signed by all working staff of the Observatory. These people are the key facilitators of the significant enhancement both in the quality and scope of the Observatory's services seen in recent years.
Dr Lam chose to write a letter to the colleagues of the Observatory in 30 years' time. He also put into the time capsule a windbreaker with the Observatory logo, projecting an image of the Observatory staff bracing themselves against storms.
In his speech to more than 100 guests and staff attending the ceremony, Mr Ip was all praise to the achievement of the Observatory. He was pleased with the high level of services provided by the Observatory in recent years.
Dr Lam's speech had a nostalgic tone. His speech took the audience to a journey back in time to see how things were in the very first days of the Observatory. He paid tribute to his predecessors, particularly the "war-time heroes" who persevered to maintain continuity of weather reporting in very difficult times when they were imprisoned.
Other items put into the time capsule included a photo album showing Observatory staff at work, documents and publications demonstrating various milestones in the history of development, a selection of weather forecasting tools, conjectures of how the weather, the Observatory and Hong Kong would be in 30 years' time, a bottle of cognac to celebrate the Observatory's 150th anniversary in 2033, and many more.
In his letter to the Observatory's colleagues in 2033, the year the time capsule would be opened, Dr Lam wrote, "the time capsule laying ceremony is about expressing our pride in working in the Observatory, about celebrating the vitality of our home away from home, and about celebrating our destiny of coming together as a small but close community." These words very much summarized the festive mood of those Observatory staff present today.
Aerial photo of HKO in 1950's
Aerial photo of HKO in 2003