Beijing Ancient Observatory

The Royal Asiatic Society of Beijing

The Royal Asiatic Society of Beijing organized a journey back in time with a visit to the Beijing Ancient Observatory and Ming City Wall Ruins Park on 14 April 2019.
This the detailed overview as announced in my previous post.
The private tour of the Beijing Ancient Observatory was with commentary by a local expert on the history and the various astronomical devices.
This is the first part, about the observatory. Next post will be about the Ming City Wall Ruins Park.
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is located south of Jianguomen subway Exit C. See the view from the diplomatic apartments near the flyover, where I also lived for a few years in the eighties, see the red building. Some views from the observatory on the Second Ring and Chang’An Avenue.

Built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty, this observatory is one of the oldest in the world. As the Emperor was considered the “Son of Heaven”, astronomy and the movement of the planets and stars were extremely important to Chinese cosmology. Later it was updated with the help of European Jesuits including Ferdinand Verbiest and Adam Schall von Bell.

The tour

See the pictures of the instruments with some of the explanations. We had a VIP visit to the observatory under a blue sky, followed by a tour of the exhibition halls, exhibits and statues in the courtyard. Some children were also visiting and making drawings of the instruments. See the pictures of the exhibition area.
As an engineer I was amazed by the complexity and ingenuity of the instruments. To be honest, no clue how those worked!
Our Ferdinand Verbiest is prominently displayed.

Recent book

Veerle De Vos wrote a book in Dutch about Ferdinand Verbiest “Ferdinand Verbiest en de ontdekking van China. Alles onder de hemel” published by Pelckmans.

See her interview here.
And her interview on VRT

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