Astronomical Instruments

Ancient Observatory, Beijing

The observatory was built during the Ming dynasty, on the location of an earlier Yuan dynasty observatory. The instruments, currently seen on the roof, were built in the Qing dynasty, with European participation by Jesuits at the Imperial court. From left to right, the instruments are: a sextant, an azimuth theodolite, an altazimuth, an ecliptic armilla, and a celestial globe. Further to the right, off the edge of this photo, are a quadrant and an equatorial armilla. A weather station, erected on a pole in the background, shows that the ancient observatory still retains a modest practical function today.

For more information about the observatory, and detailed photographs of its instruments, see: Chinese Astronomy (U. of Maine). For a look at premodern astronomy at about the same time in India, compare the Jantar Mantar Observatory on this website.