Kissers and stars bring romance to Taiwan

Kissers and stars bring romance to Taiwan
Flowers are displayed on the day before Valentines day.

TAIPEI - From marathon kissers to the celestial flowers, love was in the air for Valentine's Day in Taiwan, yesterday.

At Taipei Main Station yesterday, a Valentine's Day kissing competition was held for the fourth year to see which couple could hold a kiss pose for the longest, while each man held his female lover in his arms. A total of 14 couples, including some foreigners joined the competition, which turned out to be more a test of male strength than one of romantic endurance.

Five couples remained after the first hour passed. Eventually the winning couple was able to hold their kiss for approximately two hours. The winning couple won two brand new iPhone 6 smartphones worth approximately NT$50,000 (S$2,160).

The winners' prizes also happened to be the most-desired Valentine's day gift, according to an online survey. In the survey conducted by ePrice, a price-comparison website for electronics products, the iPhone 6 was ranked as the most popular Valentine's Day gift this year, capturing 25 per cent of respondents' total votes.

Meanwhile, thirty married couples kissed for Valentine's Day under cherry trees in New Taipei City, yesterday. The New Taipei City government invited 30 happily married couples to pose for a photo shoot under cherry blossom trees in New Taipei's Sanzhi District.

Lovers who missed out on these events should not be worried, however, as the Taipei City Astronomical Museum reminded people that they all were celebrating the special day under a spectacular flower.

The Rosette Nebula, which appears as a giant red rose in the night sky, was clearly visible just in time for Valentine's Day yesterday, said TAM. Museum officials said that the nebula is located within the Monceros constellation NGC2237.

TAM indicated that many people in western countries send roses to their other half for Valentine's Day, however the Rosette Nebula itself appears as the largest rose in the sky, measuring 130 light-years in diameter. The nebula is appropriately 5,200 light-years away from earth, according to TAM.

TAM officials explained that the Rosette Nebula is actually a cluster of newborn stars and is estimated to only be a few hundred million years old. TAM believes that the nebula is still gathering around a large number of hydrogen clouds, which give it a flower-like form.

In addition, the nebula's centre consists of hot, young stars that are emitting radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen clouds to emit a charming red light. Some stars also blow in a cosmic wind, says TAM, which form the clouds into petal-like shapes and give the nebula a special appearance.

TAM indicates that after nightfall in winter months, Rosette Nebula becomes visible within the Monceros constellation. Viewers can even use a digital camera in unlit, mountainous areas to capture photos of the nebula. TAM recommends everyone consider something more than flowers for Valentine's Day, like a beautiful flower in the sky.

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