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Beijing Ancient Observatory

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Beijing Ancient Observatorysituated in the southwest side of Jianguomen Street at Dongcheng District. It is typically a natural science museum in ancient China, where astronomical equipment displayed. The observatory was home to several large bronze instruments for measuring the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars as well. It was firstly built in the Ming Dynasty with a history of more than 500 years. Now, it has been reformed to Beijing Ancient Astronomical Equipment Exhibition Hall, which belong to Beijing Astronomy Observatory and was official opened in 1956.
Ancient Observatory is an immortal monument of the history of ancient Chinese civilization. Astronomy is recorded here for the great contributions of our ancestors, reflects the people's intelligence and wisdom and labor crystallization.

The Ancient Observatory was built in Ming Dynasty ZhengTong period, about the years from 1439 to 1442. The site was chosen to be the original Capital of Yuan Dynasty with the name of Watching Star Platform at that time.
In Qing Dynasty, it changed its name to Observatory as today. At the end of Qing Dynasty, when Allied Forces of Eight Powers invaded Beijing, French and Germans robbed some of the instruments, but after the World War 1, the instruments were returned to China.
After the Revolution of 1911, it again changed name to Central Observatory. And in 1929, to National Chronometer Museum. Then it was not used for chronometric research but weather observation only.
After the establishment of Peoples Republic of China in the 50s, as Beijing Chronometer Museum and during 70s, it had been restored cosmically.
Well repaired, the Observatory became a quaint brick building in shape of butterfly. The platform reaches 17.79 meters, 20 meters from east to west and the same from north to south. On the promise of the original building style, the inside part was divided into two-floor exhibition hall.
In 1982, the Ancient Observatory is listed as a key unit to be protected in China.

Ancient Observatory covers an area of about 10,000 square meters. It includes a 10-meter-high platform, Senate brick building with some watching star platform. Eight bronze astronomical instruments displaying on the platform. Some of them can be used to do measuring surveying work. These machines have eight huge Chinese traditional decorations with such kind of reflection of European appearances in size and structure.
On the platform, which is over 18 meters high and 24 meters long, 20 meters wide, 3 Ming Dynasty bronze tools preliminary lay out to public. The inventions of them are on the basis of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) instrument. Not until Qing Dynasty they put the equipment displaying under the platform as eight large instruments there. In the second gallery hall, it demonstrated the achievements of ancient Chinese astronomy. Four exhibition rooms in the four platforms: The Ziwi Palace and the East- Wing- Room exhibited the Lingtai Equipment, where you could know the exactly site of LingTai and the developing process of the Ancient Observatory. In the Western calendar and exhibition rooms will inspire you to enrich China's reform agenda; Ming astronomers observe the shadow of the house doors and measurement used to determine the time the sun shadow.

Special Instruments
Armillary Sphere
Used to measure the coordinates of celestial bodies. There were two types, an ecliptic armillary used to track the sun, and an equatorial armillary for other bodies. This ecliptic armillary was built in 1744, during the Qing Dynasty. ThE equatorial armillary was built in 1673, during the Qing Dynasty. There is also a 1673 ecliptic armillary. Note that the ecliptic armillary is a little more complex than the equatorial armillary.

Used to measure altitudes or zenith locations of celestial bodies.

Used to measure altitude and azimuth coordinates of celestial bodies.

Azimuth Theodolite
The azimuth theodolite, built in 1673 of Qing Dynasty. The vivid dragons are a common motif in Chinese art. There was a large satellite dish and a construction crane visible behind the theodolite. They distracted from the image, so it could be removed during processing. Used to measure the azimuth coordinate of celestial bodies.

Used to measure the angular distance between celestial bodies and to measure the angular diameter of the sun and moon. It was built in 1715 of Qing Dynasty. Notice the large gear, which is turned by a much smaller gear on a handwheel. This allows for precise adjustment of the sextant's position

Celestial Globe
Used to determine the rising and setting times of celestial bodies as well as determining the altitude and azimuth of celestial bodies at any time.

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