Star Gazing in Ancient China’s Capital

A Fascinating Tour of the Beijing Ancient Observatory

This location is one of the nicest sites in the country, but it has little renown, and it has been stated throughout history that it is one of the most abandoned works and attractions in Beijing. We advise you to see this historical site if astronomy and cosmic science are your interests. Several tourists visit this nation every year, yet throughout their stay, they only visit its significant and well-known tourist sites. There are also historic ones with a lot of charm. We’ll keep giving you additional information about this old piece of work.

History of Beijing Ancient Observatory

The Ming dynasty ruled over this region in 1442 when this observatory was constructed. It is now roughly 500 years old. This location, one of the most significant hubs of astronomy and cosmology, operated until 1929. Several observatories throughout the world have suffered from deterioration and destruction over time. Cosmologists were working in this observatory at the time, performing at the highest level.

This observatory offers not only functional astronomical observation gear, but also unique historical items that are regarded as national treasures in China. The primary structure of this location is made of bricks. The structure was designed and built with walls that are 15 meters high. This building’s plan is 40 x 40 in size. One of the Christian missionaries in charge of this location in 1673 was Ferdinand Verbist. Six pieces of astronomy equipment that were only available to Europeans were delivered to this location when this guy was in charge. These were the years when the merger of Chinese and European knowledge began and flourished.

History of Beijing Ancient Observatory
History of Beijing Ancient Observatory

Large tools are positioned on towers within this structure. All of these tools are of this era. To witness this historical and tourism work, you can fly to Beijing China by taking a domestic aircraft. Anyone who is interested can visit this location to observe these sorts of antique astronomy instruments, which will be shown in this building today. The science and technology of astronomy continue to be greatly influenced by this location.

Facilities of Beijing Observatory for tourists

If you visit this attraction, keep in mind that you are doing it in one of the world’s oldest observatories. Throughout the Ming and Qing eras, the Beijing Ancient Observatory was constructed as a national observatory. Even from a distance, the tower’s top will show the buildings and equipment for seeing the stars. Visitors will likely find this problem to be more intriguing and appealing.

Facilities of Beijing Observatory for tourists
Facilities of Beijing Observatory for tourists

8 large ancient structures

The eight astronomical constructions made of copper from the Great Qing Dynasty time are huge and full of remarkable forms and sculptures at this location. Although they resemble objects from ancient China and are utilized in a similar way, Renaissance-era ornamentation has been used with them in Western Europe. This issue demonstrates the development of astronomy in China as well as the cultural impact on other nations.

Chinese Astrologer

In this place, you can see the world’s largest bronze astronomical structure. A device made by the most skilled hands during the Yuan Dynasty in China. Other new astronomical structures that you see in this observatory were designed by one of the geniuses of Chinese astronomy named Xu Guangqi. The statue of this Chinese genius who lived during the Mei Qing Dynasty is now located in the area around the Beijing Ancient Observatory and you can see him up close. The rest of the tools and devices were brought into this country by foreign missionaries.

Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi

Cultural exchange between China & Europe

All astronomical instruments here are cultural achievements between Western countries and China. It provides important information about astronomical studies and ancient astronomical achievements to today’s scientists and researchers. This scientific museum is an important historical witness that shows the cultural exchange between East and West during that era.

8 Large Copper Astronomical Instruments in the Beijing Observatory

Upon entering the Beijing Observatory, you enter one of the largest observatories in the world, which is filled with gigantic astronomical instruments. Here, every visitor looks like a deer standing in front of an elephant. We introduce each giant device of this observatory.

1. Spectacularly detailed globes with equatorial orbits

The first tool you will see in the northeast area of the Beijing Ancient Observatory is a copper globe. This instrument weighs 5.145 kg and stands at 3.379 meters in height. So you are facing a very large device. The copper orbital globe you are witnessing is the last copper tool made in the Qing Dynasty. This device shows the power, ability and progress of science and technology in that period of China. The structure of the combined science of materials and then sculpting has been so advanced that they could easily make such a large observation tool. This large globe of orbits shows how skilled the astronomers of that period were in astronomy and how they designed precise instruments.

Spectacularly detailed globes with equatorial orbits
Spectacularly detailed globes with equatorial orbits

2. Sextant For Angle Measurement

One of the astronomical instruments in the past was called Sextant. A very widely used tool that was seen in the hands of every astronomer and astronomer. This tool was used to detect latitude and longitude and angle measurements of the stars. At that time, even ships and sailors used sextants instead of astrolabes. In the southern part of Beijingโ€™s ancient observatory, you can also see a sextant placed next to a large orbiting globe. Here you will find the largest sextant. An astronomical device that weighs 802 kg and is 3,274 meters high. This big device was also made during the Qing Dynasty.

3. A flat globe for observing eclipses

The weight of the ecliptic sphere is 2,752 kg and its height is 3,492 meters. This flat globe is the first observation device in China to check the zodiac frame coordinate system with a separate device.

4. Altazimuth astronomical tripod and instrument

Altazimuth tripod and telescope is another astronomical tool of this Beijing landmark, which has a unique feature. You will see decorative arts in the French style of the Western Renaissance period on this device. Altazimuth has a weight of 7.368 kg and a height of 4.125 meters. This tripod has two levers, one moves horizontally and the other vertically, and any device mounted on it can be directed in different directions.

Altazimuth astronomical tripod and instrument
Altazimuth astronomical tripod and instrument

5. Horizon circle

It is placed at the southern end of Beijing Ancient Observatory. The horizontal circle weighs 1.811 kg and is 3.2 meters high.

6. Globe Horizon

The weight of this astronomical instrument in the Beijing Ancient Observatory is 2,720 kg, which is built at the height of 3,380 meters. This tool is actually one of the oldest astronomical tools invented by the Chinese. They used this device in 14 different ways, one of which was measuring the height of the stars and their sunrise and sunset.

7. Celestial Sphere

You will see a very interesting celestial sphere in this Beijing attraction. This large copper tool is very heavy and weighs 3,850 kg. Its height is 2.735 meters. If you look at the western part of this observatory and its upper middle, you will see this device. Tourists standing at the bottom of the observatory can see all these devices on the observatory tower and build from below.

8. Quadrant tool in ancient astronomy

The Astronomical Quadrant tool has also another name. Some nations also call it the top sector. You will find this large device in the northwest part and above the Beijing Observatory. The weight of this device is 2,483 kg and its height is 3,611 meters. The Quadrant tool was used to measure the distance between the stars and the horizon or the distance between the ridge of the sky and the stars. A very practical tool that scientists and astronomers used a lot in ancient times.

The most important achievement of Beijing Ancient Observatory: Calendar & Time
The most important achievement of Beijing Ancient Observatory: Calendar & Time

The most important achievement of Beijing Ancient Observatory: Calendar & Time

Perhaps most of the scientists and people who researched in the ancient observatory of China were about the calendar and time. Observing the movement of the sun and measuring the shadows of objects on the earth at any time of the year, observing the height of the sun in the sky, and finally preparing an astronomical calendar can be considered the most important achievement. An achievement that is very important throughout the history of China and perhaps the world.

Astronomical phenomena discovered in this observatory

It is interesting to know that this observatory, with its scientists and the tools they built, was able to discover many astronomical phenomena during its activity. The Beijing Ancient Observatory owes its astronomical achievements to the observations of skilled Chinese archaeologists. Imagine if such an instrument was in the hands of incompetent people, then none of the world’s astronomical observations would be observed.

For example, in ancient China, scientists and astronomical researchers studied sunspots. These scientists saw the trajectory of Halley’s Comet, saw supernovae, and even held educational classes for young people interested in astronomy. Therefore, this is one of the ancient schools of astronomy and astronomy in the world.

Visiting hours of the Beijing Observatory

Every day from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM and then from 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM, you can visit this Beijing attraction. Of course, remember that the entire building is closed on Tuesday.

How to access the observatory
How to access the observatory

How to access the observatory

From the center of Beijing, take subway line number 1, called Batong Line, or line number 2, called circle line, to Jiangmen. Exit the subway from the southeast exit.

If it is easier for you to get around the city by bus or if you want to visit the city and everything on its streets along the way, then the bus is the best option. Although commuting in the city by bus takes more time, it will familiarize you more with the city. To get to Beijing Ancient Observatory, you need to take bus numbers 1, 4, 8, 9, 20, 43, 44, or 57.

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