China 2009
Beijing’s Ancient Observatory

Photos by Ed Hedemann
(click on photo to enlarge)

One of the oldest observatories in the world (completed during the Ming Dynasty in 1442) was used primarily to observe celestial objects and improve calendars. In the 1600s it was upgrade with the aid of a Flemish Jesuit missionary.
The Ancient Observatory building
About 50 feet high, the building is part of the Ming Dynasty wall that surrounded Beijing Guo Shoujing, a 13th-
century astronomer who
developed the longest
used calendar in Chinese
Shen Kuo, an 11th century astronomer and writer known for developing several instruments, devised a solar calendar
ancient instruments dragon statue
Several ancient instruments on the roof of the observatory  

Armillary sphere, used
to determine celestial

Azimuth theodolite, used to
measure azimuths
Armillary sphere, used to
measure altitudes and
Celestial globe marked with constellations
sundial dragon as instrument leg sextant
Sundial Dragon, a favored support for
astronomical instruments
17th century sextant, used
to measure angular distance
between two objects
Ancient water clock Taking a break during a hot morning in the observatory courtyard. A rare (during our trip) "political" message on this display about Western astronomy