Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ancient Observatory Beijing

Ancient Observatory Beijing 北京古觀象台

Built during the reign of Kublai Khan from 1437-1446, Beijing's Ancient Observatory was first used by astrologers to predict the omens for Kublai Khan's land and sea campaigns.

Scientific instruments on display on the roof of the Ancient Observatory

In the early 1600's Jesuit missionaries became the Chinese court's official scientific advisers and a collection of the Catholic order's bronze, Western-influenced, scientific instruments is on display on the roof of the building.

The instruments include: an armillary sphere, an azimuth theodolite, a celestial globe, a quadrant, a sextant and a theodolite.

Chinese flag on the roof of the Ancient Observatory

The astrological devices were built under the supervision of various Jesuit missionary scholars to impress the Chinese rulers and are a fascinating design mix of East and West. The Jesuits also passed on the techniques of cannon-making!
Special viewing events are held at the observatory on the occasion of special celestial happenings, such as comets and eclipses.

Access - Getting There

Ancient Observatory
2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, Dongcheng
Tel: 6524 2202
Hours: 9 am-4 pm

Beijing's Ancient Observatory is just a stone's throw from Jianguomen Subway Station. The observatory is 15 minute walk north from the South East Corner Watchtower.