中文 | English | Español | Français
Olympics  中文 | Español | Français
首页 > 奥林匹克频道 >  Content

The Ancient Beijing Observatory

Updated:2008-06-06 10:19 | Source:

  Panorama:The Ancient Beijing Observatory

  Located off the Chang'an (Eternal Peace) Avenue near

  the Beijing Railway Station, the Ancient Beijing

  Observatory was first built in 1442 during the Ming

  Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It is one of the oldest

  observatories in the world. The observatory was

  renovated in the early 1980s and reopened to the

  public in April 1983. After renovation it is very

  much as it was when it served the imperial court.

  In 1227, when the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127)

  was overthrown, the astronomical instruments in the

  capital at Bianliang (today's Kaifeng, Henan

  Province) were moved to Beijing (then called

  Zhongdu, meaning Central Capital) by the Jin rulers

  and installed in the Jin Chief Astronomer's

  Observatory. When the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368)

  succeeded the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) and

  established its capital in Beijing, it built a new

  observatory just north of the site of the present-

  day structure in 1279. The instruments designed by

  Wang Xun and Guo Shoujin and built by Nepalese

  craftsman Arniko served virtually unchanged as the

  basis of astronomical work for the last 500 years.

  In 1368 when the first Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang

  moved the capital to Nanjing, these astronomical

  instruments were brought to the city. Yongle, the

  third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, took power in

  1403 and moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing

  in 1420. He did not dare to move these instruments

  because the tomb of the first Ming Emperor was in

  Nanjing. Instead he sent some artisans to the city

  in 1437 to make wooden copies of the Song armillary

  sphere and the Yuan guibiao (a type of sundial) and

  abridged armilla (a symplified form of the armillary

  sphere). A new set of bronze instruments was then

  cast in Beijing modelled after these wooden copies.

  At the same time, a new observatory was constructed

  on the site of the water tower to the southeast of

  the old capital. It was during that period that the

  Ancient Beijing Observatory took on its present

  scale and layout and was equipped with such

  traditional instruments as the armillary sphere, the

  abridged armilla , and the celestial globe on the

  observatory platform, as well as the guibiao and the

  water clock below the platform.

  During the period from 1662 to 1722, Ferdinand

  Verbient, a Belgian missionary, was put in charge of

  introducing European astronomical measurements and

  instrumentation in the Imperial Astronomical Bureau.

  Between 1669 and 1673, he supervised the

  construction of a celestial globe, an equatorial

  theodolite, a zodiac theodolite, an altazimuth, a

  quadrant, and an ancient sextant. Later another

  altazimuth and an armilla were built in 1715 and

  1744 respectively.

  In 1900, when the Allied Forces of Eight Powers

  invaded Beijing, everything was looted at the

  observatory. The French troops shipped the

  equatorial armilla, the ecliptic armilla, the

  azimuth theodolite, the quadrant and the abridged

  armilla to the French Embassy to China in Beijing.

  Two years later in 1902, under the pressure of

  public opinion, these astronomical instruments were

  returned to China. The Ming made armillary sphere,

  and Qing made armillary sphere, and Qing made

  celestial globe, armilla, azimuth theodolite, and

  the sextant were taken away by the Germans to

  Beriin. It was not until 1921 that these instruments

  were sent back to Beijing after World War I in

  compliance with the Versailles Peace Treaty.

  After September 18, 1931 when the Japanese

  militarists launched a large-scale invasion to North

  China Plain, Chinese scientists shipped some of the

  instruments to Nanjing in 1932 for the sake of the

  cultural relics. Today they are displayed at Purple

  Hills Observatory and Nanjing Museum respectively.

  Nowadays, on the platform of the Ancient Beijing

  Observatory as the visitor climbs it form right to

  left are displayed an armilla, a quadrant, a

  celestial globe, an ecliptic armilla, an altazimuth,

  an azimuth theodolite, a sextant and an equatorial


  The brick terraced observatory consists of a 17-

  metre high platfrom. The top of the platform is 23.9

  metres from west to east and 20.4 metres form south

  to north.


Editor : Zhu Jia

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics