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Ancient Observatory

Why the Ancient Observatory is special

Built in the Ming Dynasty (1442), Beijing Ancient Observatory, as the astronomical observations through the recent 500 years, is the world's oldest existing astronomical institutions.


Beijing Ancient Observatory is not only a place to observe the heaven but a unique historical treasure. If you are an amateur astronomer or a fan of stargazing, you can take a turn looking at the starry sky through the ancient observatory; maybe you will catch a glimpse of a meteor or your constellation.


Ancient Observatory Highlights

The magnificent and excellent equipment are:

Equator theodolite

Ecliptic theodolite

Horizon longitude equipment

Quadrant equipment

Horizon theodolite

Jihenfuchen equipment (made in Qing Dynasty)


Some of these equipments still function as actual observation.
The ancient observatory was built in Zhengtong 6th Year of Ming Dynasty (the year 1442), which is the astronomy observation center in Ming and Qing Dynasties and belong to the one of the oldest astronomical observatory in the world. Today, it has more than 550 years history. Beijing Ancient Observatory was called as "Star Observatory" in Ming Dynasty. There are large-scale astronomical equipment like Simple Equipment, Mixed Equipment and Mixed Phenomena Equipment and etc. The gnomon and clepsydra is set up in under the platform. The name of "Star Observatory" was changed to "Observatory" in Qing Dynasty, and it re-changed to "Central Star Observatory" after the Revelation in 1911.


Beijing Ancient Observatory is composed of Star Observatory made of brick in 14 meters high and the buildings like Ziwei Palace, Clepsydra House and Shadow Observation Hall under the platform. Beijing Ancient Observatory has 500 years successive astronomical observation history from the Zhengtong period in Ming Dynasty to the year 1929.


It is the historical records of the longest successive observation period amongst the current existing ancient observatories in the world. Moreover, it also shares high reputation in the world die to its integrated building and completed equipment. In Kangxi and Qianlong periods in Qing Dynasty, the astronomical observatory added eight large-sized astronomical observatory equipment made of cooper one after another. They all adopt the European measurement and equipment construction. Those astronomical equipment have large body, and beautiful sculpt, excellent engraving. Except for the Chinese tradition characterized aspects like sculpt, flower decoration and craftwork, etc, the other aspects like graduation, cursors and construction and etc also reflects the process and achievement of large-size astronomical equipment after the period of renaissance of the western Europe. It is the historical witness of oriental and western culture exchanges. They are not only the practical astronomy observation equipment but also the incomparable historic culture relic treasures.

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