Chinese astronomy
Overview
 
Astronomy in China has a very long history, with historians considering that "they [the Chinese] were the most persistent and accurate observers of celestial phenomena anywhere in the world before the Arabs."
Star names later categorized in the twenty-eight mansions
Twenty-eight mansions
The Twenty-eight Mansions , ', ' or ' are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in the Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon in a lunar month rather than the Sun in a solar year...

 have been found on oracle bones unearthed at Anyang
Anyang
Anyang is a prefecture-level city in Henan province, People's Republic of China. The northernmost city in Henan, Anyang borders Puyang to the east, Hebi and Xinxiang to the south, and the provinces of Shanxi and Hebei to its west and north respectively....

, dating back to the middle Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (Chinese Bronze Age), and the mansion (xiù:宿) system's nucleus seems to have taken shape by the time of the ruler Wu Ding
Wu Ding
Wu Ding was a Shang Dynasty King of China.His is the first historically verifiable name in the history of Chinese dynasties...

 (1339-1281 BC).

Detailed records of astronomical observations began during the Warring States period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 (4th century BC) and flourished from the Han period onwards.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Astronomy in China has a very long history, with historians considering that "they [the Chinese] were the most persistent and accurate observers of celestial phenomena anywhere in the world before the Arabs."
Star names later categorized in the twenty-eight mansions
Twenty-eight mansions
The Twenty-eight Mansions , ', ' or ' are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in the Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon in a lunar month rather than the Sun in a solar year...

 have been found on oracle bones unearthed at Anyang
Anyang
Anyang is a prefecture-level city in Henan province, People's Republic of China. The northernmost city in Henan, Anyang borders Puyang to the east, Hebi and Xinxiang to the south, and the provinces of Shanxi and Hebei to its west and north respectively....

, dating back to the middle Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 (Chinese Bronze Age), and the mansion (xiù:宿) system's nucleus seems to have taken shape by the time of the ruler Wu Ding
Wu Ding
Wu Ding was a Shang Dynasty King of China.His is the first historically verifiable name in the history of Chinese dynasties...

 (1339-1281 BC).

Detailed records of astronomical observations began during the Warring States period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 (4th century BC) and flourished from the Han period onwards. Chinese astronomy was equatorial, centered as it was on close observation of circumpolar stars, and was based on different principles from those prevailing in traditional Western astronomy, where heliacal risings and settings of zodiac constellations formed the basic ecliptic framework.

Some elements of Indian astronomy reached China with the expansion of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 during the Later Han dynasty
Later Han Dynasty (Five Dynasties)
The Later Han Dynasty was founded in 947. It was the fourth of the Five Dynasties and the third consecutive Shatuo Turk dynasty...

 (25–220 AD), but the most detailed incorporation of Indian astronomical thought occurred during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618-907), when numerous Indian astronomers took up residence in the Chinese capital, and Chinese scholars, such as the great Tantric
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Buddhist monk and mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 Yi Xing
Yi Xing
Yi Xing , born Zhang Sui , was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer,and Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty...

, mastered its system. Islamic astronomers collaborated closely with their Chinese colleagues during the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

, and, after a period of relative decline during the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, astronomy was revitalized under the stimulus of Western cosmology and technology after the Jesuits established their missions. The telescope was introduced in the 17th century. In 1669, the Peking observatory
Beijing Ancient Observatory
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is a pretelescopic observatory located in Beijing, China. The revolutionary tools used within this ancient observatory were built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty, and later amended during the Qing....

 was completely redesigned and refitted under the direction of Ferdinand Verbiest
Ferdinand Verbiest
Father Ferdinand Verbiest was a Flemish Jesuit missionary in China during the Qing dynasty. He was born in Pittem near Tielt in Flanders, later part of the modern state of Belgium. He is known as Nan Huairen in Chinese...

. Today, China continues to be active in astronomy, with many observatories and its own space program
Chinese space program
The space program of the People's Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration . Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when the People's Republic began a rudimentary ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats...

.

Purpose of astronomical observations in the past

One of the main functions was for the purpose of timekeeping. The Chinese used a lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

, but, because the cycles of the sun and the moon are different, intercalation
Intercalation
Intercalation is the insertion of a leap day, week or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.- Solar calendars :...

 had to be done.

The Chinese calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

 was considered to be a symbol of a dynasty. As dynasties would rise and fall, astronomers and astrologers of each period would often prepare a new calendar to be made, with observations for that purpose.

Astrological divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 was also an important part of astronomy. Astronomers took careful note of "guest stars", which suddenly appeared among the fixed star
Fixed star
The fixed stars are celestial objects that do not seem to move in relation to the other stars of the night sky. Hence, a fixed star is any star except for the Sun. A nebula or other starlike object may also be called a fixed star. People in many cultures have imagined that the stars form pictures...

s. The supernova
Supernova
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It is pronounced with the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months...

 that created the Crab Nebula
Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula  is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus...

 observed in 1054, now known as the SN 1054
SN 1054
SN 1054 is a supernova that was first observed as a new "star" in the sky on July 4, 1054 AD, hence its name, and that lasted for a period of around two years. The event was recorded in multiple Chinese and Japanese documents and in one document from the Arab world...

, is an example of a guest star observed by Chinese astronomers, recorded also by the Arab astronomers
Islamic astronomy
Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy comprises the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age , and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, and North Africa, and...

, although it was not recorded by their European contemporaries. Ancient astronomical records of phenomena like supernovae and comets are sometimes used in modern astronomical studies.

Cosmology

The Chinese developed three different cosmological models. The Gai Tan, or hemispherical dome, model conceived the heavens as a hemisphere lying over a dome-shaped earth. The second cosmological model, associated with the Hun Tian school, saw the heavens as a celestial sphere
Celestial spheres
The celestial spheres, or celestial orbs, were the fundamental entities of the cosmological models developed by Plato, Eudoxus, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus and others...

 not unlike the spherical models developed in the Greek
Greek astronomy
Greek astronomy is astronomy written in the Greek language in classical antiquity. Greek astronomy is understood to include the ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Greco-Roman, and Late Antiquity eras. It is not limited geographically to Greece or to ethnic Greeks, as the Greek language had become the...

 and Hellenistic traditions. The third cosmology, associated with the Xuan Ye school, viewed the heavens as infinite in extent and the celestial bodies as floating about at rare intervals, and "the speed of the luminaries depends on their individual natures, which shows they are not attached to anything."

Constellations

The divisions of the sky began with the Northern Dipper and the 28 mansions
Twenty-eight mansions
The Twenty-eight Mansions , ', ' or ' are part of the Chinese constellations system. They can be considered as the equivalent to the zodiacal constellations in the Western astronomy, though the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon in a lunar month rather than the Sun in a solar year...

.

In 1977, a lacquer box was excavated from the tomb of Yi, the marquis of Zeng, in Suixian, Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 Province. Names of the 28 lunar mansions were found on the cover of the box, proving that the use of this classification system was made before 433 BC.

As lunar mansions have such an ancient origin, the meanings of most of their names have become obscure. Even worse, the name of each lunar mansion consists of only one Chinese word, the meaning of which could vary at different times in history. The meanings of the names are still under discussion.

Besides the 28 lunar mansions, most constellations are based on the works of Shi Shen-fu
Shi Shen
Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

 and Gan De
Gan De
Gan De was a Chinese astronomer/astrologer born in the State of Qi also known as the Lord Gan . Along with Shi Shen, he is believed to be the first in history known by name to compile a star catalogue, preceded by the anonymous authors of the early Babylonian star catalogues and followed by the...

, who were astrologists during the period of Warring States (481 BC - 221 BC) in China.

In the late period of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the agricultural scientist and mathematician Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi , was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of...

 (1562 - 1633 AD) introduced 23 additional constellations near to the Celestial South Pole, which are based on star catalogues from the West (see Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

).

Star catalogues

In the 4th century BC, the two Chinese astronomers responsible for the earliest information going into the star catalogue
Star catalogue
A star catalogue, or star catalog, is an astronomical catalogue that lists stars. In astronomy, many stars are referred to simply by catalogue numbers. There are a great many different star catalogues which have been produced for different purposes over the years, and this article covers only some...

s were Shi Shen
Shi Shen
Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

 and Gan De
Gan De
Gan De was a Chinese astronomer/astrologer born in the State of Qi also known as the Lord Gan . Along with Shi Shen, he is believed to be the first in history known by name to compile a star catalogue, preceded by the anonymous authors of the early Babylonian star catalogues and followed by the...

 of the Warring States period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

.
Author Transliterated name Chinese Catalogue name Pinyin
Shi Shen
Shi Shen
Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

 
Shi Shen astronomy 石申天文 Shi Shen tienwen
Gan De
Gan De
Gan De was a Chinese astronomer/astrologer born in the State of Qi also known as the Lord Gan . Along with Shi Shen, he is believed to be the first in history known by name to compile a star catalogue, preceded by the anonymous authors of the early Babylonian star catalogues and followed by the...

 
Astronomic star observation 天文星占 Tianwen xingzhan


These books appeared to have lasted until the 6th century but were lost after that. A number of books share similar names, often quoted and named after them. These texts should not be confused with the original catalogues written by them. Notable works that helped preserve the contents include:
Author Transliterated name Chinese name Pinyin Comments
Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

 
Book of Celestial Offices 天官書 Tianguan shu This is the astronomical chapter of the Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

, a massive history compiled during the late 2nd century BC by the Han-era
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 scholar and official Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

. This chapter provides a star catalogue and discusses the schools of Gan De and Shi Shen.
Ma Xian (馬顯) Star Manual of the Masters Gan and Shi 甘石星經 Gan Shi Xingjing Despite having the name credited to Shi and Gan, it was lost and actually compiled circa 579 AD as an appendix to the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era, and summarized in the book 郡齋讀書志.
Book of Jin
Book of Jin
The Book of Jin is one of the official Chinese historical works. It covers the history of Jin Dynasty from 265 to 420, which written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Tang Dynasty, with the lead editor being the Prime Minister Fang Xuanling, drawing mostly from the official...

 
晉書 Jin shu In the astronomical chapters of the text
Book of Sui
Book of Sui
The Book of Sui was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty, and it ranks among the official Twenty-Four Histories of imperial China. It was compiled by a team of historians led by the Tang Dynasty official Wei Zheng and was completed in 636.-External links:* of the Book of Sui,...

 
隋書 Sui shu
Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha, astronomer, astrologer and compiler of Indian descent, known for leading the compilation of the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era during the Tang Dynasty. He was born in Chang'an, and his family was originally from India, according to a tomb stele uncovered in 1977 in Xi'an...

 
Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
The Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era is a Chinese astrology encyclopedia compiled by the lead editor Gautama Siddha and numerous scholars from 714 to 724 AD during the Kaiyuan era of Tang Dynasty. The compilation is attributed to the author by 729. Its full title is regarded as the Great...

 
開元占經 Kaiyuan Zhanjing During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 (712-756 AD). After analyzing and providing a summary on the work of Gan De and Shi Shen, Tang era astronomers mentioned the names of more than 800 stars that were found, 121 of them marked with positions. The astronomical table
Āryabhaṭa's sine table
Āryabhaṭa's sine table is a set of twenty-four of numbers given in the astronomical treatise Āryabhaṭiya composed by the fifth century Indian mathematician and astronomer Āryabhaṭa , for the computation of the half-chords of certain set of arcs of a circle...

 of sines by the Indian astronomer and mathematician
Indian mathematics
Indian mathematics emerged in the Indian subcontinent from 1200 BCE until the end of the 18th century. In the classical period of Indian mathematics , important contributions were made by scholars like Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskara II. The decimal number system in use today was first...

 Aryabhata
Aryabhata
Aryabhata was the first in the line of great mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy...

 were also translated into the Kaiyuan Zhanjing.
The Great Firmament Star Manual Common to Astrology 通占大象曆星經 Tongzhan taxiangli xingjing This renamed star manual is incorporated in the Taoist book Daozang
Daozang
Daozang , meaning "Treasury of Dao" or "Daoist Canon", consists of around 1400 texts that were collected circa C.E. 400...

.


Wu Xian
Wu Xian (astronomer)
Wu Xian was a Chinese astronomer who supposedly lived in the Shang Dynasty of China. He is considered as one of the main ancient Chinese astronomers alongside more historical figures such as Gan De and Shi Shen, the latter two of whom lived during the Warring States...

 (巫咸) has been one of the astronomers in debate. He is often represented as one of the "Three Schools Astronomical tradition" along with Gan and Shi. The Chinese classic text Star Manual of Master Wu Xian (巫咸星經) and its authorship is still in dispute, because it mentioned names of twelve countries that did not exist in the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

, the era of which it was supposed to have been written. Moreover, it was customary in the past for the Chinese to forge works of notable scholars, as this could lead to a possible explanation for the inconsistencies found. Wu Xian is generally mentioned as the astronomer who lived many years before Gan and Shi.

The Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 astronomer and inventor Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78-139 AD) not only catalogued some 2500 different stars, but also recognized over 100 different constellations. Zhang Heng also published his work Ling Xian, a summary of different astronomical theories in China at the time. In the subsequent period of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 (220-280 AD), Chen Zhuo (陳卓) combined the work of his predecessors, forming another star catalogue. This time, 283 constellations and 1464 stars were listed. The astronomer Guo Shoujin of the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 (1279-1368 AD) created a new catalogue, which was believed to contain thousands of stars. Unfortunately, many of the documents of that period were destroyed, including that of Shoujin. Imperial Astronomical Instruments (儀象考成) was published in 1757 and contains 3083 stars exactly.

Star maps


The Chinese drew many maps of stars in the past centuries. It is debatable as to which counts as the oldest star maps, since pottery and old artifacts can also be considered star maps. One of the oldest existent star maps in printed form is from Su Song
Su Song
Su Song was a renowned Chinese polymath who specialized himself as a statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, mechanical and architectural engineer, poet, antiquarian, and ambassador of the Song Dynasty .Su Song was the engineer of a...

's (1020-1101 AD) celestial atlas of 1092 AD, which was included in the horological treatise on his clocktower. The most famous one is perhaps the Dunhuang map
Dunhuang map
The Dunhuang map or Dunhuang Star map is one of the first known graphical representation of stars from ancient Chinese astronomy, dated to the Tang Dynasty . Prior to this map, many of the star information mentioned in historical Chinese texts had been questioned...

 found in Dunhuang
Dunhuang
Dunhuang is a city in northwestern Gansu province, Western China. It was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. It was also known at times as Shāzhōu , or 'City of Sands', a name still used today...

, Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

. Uncovered by the British archaeologist Marc Aurel Stein
Marc Aurel Stein
Sir Marc Aurel Stein KCIE, FBA was a Hungarian archaeologist, primarily known for his explorations and archaeological discoveries in Central Asia. He was also a professor at various Indian universities.-Early life:Stein was born in Budapest into a Jewish family...

 in 1907, the star map was brought to the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. The map was drawn on paper and represents the complete sky, with more than 1,350 stars. Though ancient Babylonians and Greeks also observed the sky and catalogued stars, no such complete record of the stars may exist or survive. Hence, this is the oldest chart of the actual skies at present.

According to recent studies, the map may date the manuscript to as early as the 7th century AD (Tang Dynasty). Scholars believe the star map dating from 705 to 710 AD, which is the reign of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Xiǎn , at times during his life Li Zhe and Wu Xian , was the fourth Emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 684 and again from 705 to 710.Emperor Zhongzong was the son of Emperor Gaozong of Tang and Empress Wu...

. There are some texts (Monthly Ordinances, 月令) describing the movement of the sun among the sky each month, which was not based on the observation at that time.

Lunar and solar eclipses

The ancient Chinese astronomer Shi Shen
Shi Shen
Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

 (fl. 4th century BC) was aware of the relation of the moon in a solar eclipse, as he provided instructions in his writing to predict them by using the relative positions of the moon and the sun. The radiating-influence theory, where the moon's light was nothing but a reflection of the sun's, was supported by the mathematician and music theorist Jing Fang
Jing Fang
Jing Fang , born Li Fang , courtesy name Junming , was a Chinese music theorist, mathematician and astrologer. Born in present-day Puyang, Henan during the Han Dynasty , he was the first to notice how closely a succession of 53 just fifths approximates 31 octaves...

 (78–37 BC), yet opposed by the Chinese philosopher Wang Chong
Wang Chong
Wang Chong , courtesy name Zhongren , was a Chinese philosopher active during the Han Dynasty. He developed a rational, secular, naturalistic and mechanistic account of the world and of human beings and gave a materialistic explanation of the origin of the universe. His main work was the Lùnhéng...

 (27–97 AD). In his writing, Wang admits that this theory was nothing new in China. The Chinese astronomer and inventor Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78–139 AD) wrote of both solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

 and lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

 in the publication of Ling Xian (靈憲), 120 AD:


The sun is like fire and the moon like water. The fire gives out light and the water reflects it. Thus the moon's brightness is produced from the radiance of the sun, and the moon's darkness (pho) is due to (the light of) the sun being obstructed (pi). The side which faces the sun is fully lit, and the side which is away from it is dark. The planets (as well as the moon) have the nature of water and reflect light. The light pouring forth from the sun (tang jih chih chhung kuang) does not always reach the moon owing to the obstruction (pi) of the earth itself—this is called 'an-hsü', a lunar eclipse. When (a similar effect) happens with a planet (we call it) an occulation (hsing wei); when the moon passes across (kuo) (the sun's path) then there is a solar eclipse (shih).


The later Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 scientist Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo or Shen Gua , style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng , was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty...

 (1031–1095) used the models of lunar eclipse and solar eclipse in order to prove that the celestial bodies were round, not flat. This was actually an extension of the reasoning of Jing Fang and other theorists as early as the Han Dynasty. In his Dream Pool Essays
Dream Pool Essays
The Dream Pool Essays was an extensive book written by the polymath Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo by 1088 AD, during the Song Dynasty of China...

of 1088  AD, Shen related a conversation he had with the director of the Astronomical Observatory
Observatory
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geology, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed...

, who had asked Shen if the shapes of the sun and the moon were round like balls or flat like fans. Shen Kuo explained his reasoning for the former:


If they were like balls they would surely obstruct each other when they met. I replied that these celestial bodies were certainly like balls. How do we know this? By the waxing and waning of the moon. The moon itself gives forth no light, but is like a ball of silver; the light is the light of the sun (reflected). When the brightness is first seen, the sun (-light passes almost) alongside, so the side only is illuminated and looks like a crescent. When the sun gradually gets further away, the light shines slanting, and the moon is full, round like a bullet. If half of a sphere is covered with (white) powder and looked at from the side, the covered part will look like a crescent; if looked at from the front, it will appear round. Thus we know that the celestial bodies are spherical.


When he asked Shen Kuo why eclipses occurred only on an occasional basis while in conjunction and opposition once a day, Shen Kuo wrote:


I answered that the ecliptic and the moon's path are like two rings, lying one over the other, but distant by a small amount. (If this obliquity did not exist), the sun would be eclipsed whenever the two bodies were in conjunction, and the moon would be eclipsed whenever they were exactly in position. But (in fact) though they may occupy the same degree, the two paths are not (always) near (each other), and so naturally the bodies do not (intrude) upon one another.

Armillary sphere (渾儀)

The earliest development of the armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

 in China goes back to the astronomers Shi Shen
Shi Shen
Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

 and Gan De
Gan De
Gan De was a Chinese astronomer/astrologer born in the State of Qi also known as the Lord Gan . Along with Shi Shen, he is believed to be the first in history known by name to compile a star catalogue, preceded by the anonymous authors of the early Babylonian star catalogues and followed by the...

 in the 4th century BC, as they were equipped with a primitive single-ring armillary instrument. This would have allowed them to measure the north polar distance (去極度, the Chinese form of declination) and measurement that gave the position in a hsiu (入宿度, the Chinese form of right ascension).

During the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-9 AD), additional developments made by the astronomers Luoxia Hong (落下閎), Xiangyu Wangren, and Geng Shouchang (耿壽昌) advanced the use of the armillary in its early stage of evolution. In 52 BC, it was the astronomer Geng Shou-chang who introduced the first permanently fixed equatorial ring of the armillary sphere. In the subsequent Eastern Han Dynasty (23-220  AD) period, the astronomers Fu An
Fu An
Fu An was a Supervising Censor, who was dispatched in 1385 with two other Censors and a eunuch named Liu Wei, to open communications with the nations of Central Asia. They traversed the desert of Gobi and reached Hami; thence on to Karakhodjo and Ilbalik, the ancient capital of Kuldja...

 and Jia Kui
Jia Kui
Jia Kui, , style name Liangdao , was a military general and bureaucrat during the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He became a subject of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period.-Biography:...

 added the elliptical ring by 84 AD. With the famous statesman, astronomer, and inventor Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78-139 AD), the sphere was totally completed in 125 AD, with horizon and meridian rings. It is of great importance to note that the world's first hydraulic (i.e., water-powered) armillary sphere was created by Zhang Heng, who operated his by use of an inflow clepsydra clock (see Zhang's article for more detail).

Abridged armilla (簡儀)

Designed by famous astronomer Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing , courtesy name Ruosi , was a Chinese astronomer, engineer, and mathematician born in Xingtai, Hebei who lived during the Yuan Dynasty...

 in 1276 AD, it solved most problems found in armillary spheres at that time.

The primary structure of abridged armilla contains two large rings that are perpendicular to each other, of which one is parallel with the equatorial plane and is accordingly called "equatorial ring", and the other is a double ring that is perpendicular to the center of the equatorial ring, revolving around a metallic shaft, and is called "right ascension double ring".

The double ring holds within itself a sighting tube with crosshairs. When observing, astronomers would aim at the star with the sighting tube, whereupon the star's position could be deciphered by observing the dials of the equatorial ring and the right ascension double ring.

A foreign missionary melted the instrument in 1715 AD. The surviving one was built in 1437 AD and was taken to what is now Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It was then stored in a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Embassy in 1900, during the Eight-Nation Alliance
Eight-Nation Alliance
The Eight-Nation Alliance was an alliance of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States whose military forces intervened in China to suppress the anti-foreign Boxers and relieve the siege of the diplomatic legations in Beijing .- Events :The...

. Under the pressure of international public discontent, Germany returned the instrument to China. In 1933, it was placed in Purple Mountain Observatory
Purple Mountain Observatory
Purple Mountain Observatory , also known as Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory, is an astronomical observatory located on the Purple Mountain in Nanjing, China.The long time director of the observatory was Zhang Yuzhe Purple Mountain Observatory , also known as Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory,...

, which prevented it from being destroyed in the Japanese invasion
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

. In the 1980s, it had become seriously eroded and rusted down and was nearly destroyed. In order to restore the device, the Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 government spent 11 months to repair it.

Celestial globe (渾象) before Qing Dynasty

Besides star maps, the Chinese also made celestial globes, which show stars' positions like a star map and can present the actual sky at a specific time. Because of its Chinese name, it is often confused with the armillary sphere, which is just one word different in Chinese (渾象 vs. 渾儀).

According to records, the first celestial globe was made by Geng Shou-chang (耿壽昌) between 70 BC and 50 BC. In the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the celestial globe at that time was a huge globe, showing the 28 mansions, celestial equator and ecliptic. None of them have survived.

Celestial globe (天體儀) in the Qing Dynasty

Celestial globes were named 天體儀 ("Miriam celestial bodies") in the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. The one in Beijing Ancient Observatory
Beijing Ancient Observatory
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is a pretelescopic observatory located in Beijing, China. The revolutionary tools used within this ancient observatory were built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty, and later amended during the Qing....

 was made by Belgian missionary Ferdinand Verbiest
Ferdinand Verbiest
Father Ferdinand Verbiest was a Flemish Jesuit missionary in China during the Qing dynasty. He was born in Pittem near Tielt in Flanders, later part of the modern state of Belgium. He is known as Nan Huairen in Chinese...

 (南懷仁) in 1673 AD. Unlike other Chinese celestial globes, it employs 360 degree
Degree (angle)
A degree , usually denoted by ° , is a measurement of plane angle, representing 1⁄360 of a full rotation; one degree is equivalent to π/180 radians...

s rather than the 365.24 degrees (which is a standard in ancient China). It is also the first Chinese globe that shows constellations near to the Celestial South Pole.

The water-powered armillary sphere and celestial globe tower (水運儀象台)

The inventor of the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere was Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78-139 AD) of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. Zhang was well known for his brilliant applications of mechanical gears, as this was one of his most impressive inventions (alongside his seismograph to detect the cardinal direction
Cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...

 of earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s that struck hundreds of miles away).

Started by Su Song
Su Song
Su Song was a renowned Chinese polymath who specialized himself as a statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, mechanical and architectural engineer, poet, antiquarian, and ambassador of the Song Dynasty .Su Song was the engineer of a...

 (蘇頌) and his colleagues in 1086 AD and finished in 1092 AD, his large astronomical clock tower
Clock tower
A clock tower is a tower specifically built with one or more clock faces. Clock towers can be either freestanding or part of a church or municipal building such as a town hall. Some clock towers are not true clock towers having had their clock faces added to an already existing building...

 featured an armillary sphere (渾儀), a celestial globe (渾象) and a mechanical chronograph. It was operated by an escapement
Escapement
In mechanical watches and clocks, an escapement is a device that transfers energy to the timekeeping element and enables counting the number of oscillations of the timekeeping element...

 mechanism and the earliest known chain drive
Chain drive
Chain drive is a way of transmitting mechanical power from one place to another. It is often used to convey power to the wheels of a vehicle, particularly bicycles and motorcycles...

. However, 35 years later, the invading Jurchen army dismantled the tower in 1127 AD upon taking the capital of Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

. The armillary sphere part was brought to Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, yet the tower was never successfully reinstated, not even by Su Song's son.

Fortunately, two versions of Su Song's treatise written on his clock tower have survived the ages, so that studying his astronomical clock tower is made possible through medieval texts.

True north and planetary motion

The polymath Chinese scientist Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo or Shen Gua , style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng , was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty...

 (1031–1095) was not only the first in history to describe the magnetic-needle compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

, but also made a more accurate measurement of the distance between the polestar and true north
True north
True north is the direction along the earth's surface towards the geographic North Pole.True geodetic north usually differs from magnetic north , and from grid north...

 that could be used for navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

. Shen achieved this by making nightly astronomical observations along with his colleague Wei Pu
Wei Pu
Wei Pu was an 11th century Chinese astronomer of the Song Dynasty . He was born a commoner, but eventually rose to prominence as an astronomer working for the imperial court at the capital of Kaifeng...

, using Shen's improved design of a wider sighting tube that could be fixed to observe the polestar indefinitely. Along with the polestar, Shen Kuo and Wei Pu also established a project of nightly astronomical observation over a period of five successive years, an intensive work that would even rival the later work of Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 in Europe. Shen Kuo and Wei Pu charted the exact coordinates of the planets on a star map for this project and created theories of planetary motion, including retrogradation
Retrogradation
Retrogradation is the term for the landward change in position of the front of a river delta with time. This occurs when the mass balance of sediment into the delta is such that the volume of incoming sediment is less than the volume of the delta that is lost through subsidence, sea-level rise,...

.

Indian astronomy

Indian astronomy reached China with the expansion of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 during the Later Han dynasty
Later Han Dynasty (Five Dynasties)
The Later Han Dynasty was founded in 947. It was the fourth of the Five Dynasties and the third consecutive Shatuo Turk dynasty...

 (25–220 CE). Further translation of Indian works on astronomy was completed in China by the Three Kingdoms era
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 (220–265 CE). However, the most detailed incorporation of Indian astronomy occurred only during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when a number of Chinese scholars—such as Yi Xing
Yi Xing
Yi Xing , born Zhang Sui , was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer,and Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty...

—were versed both in Indian and Chinese astronomy. A system of Indian astronomy was recorded in China as Jiuzhi-li (718 CE), the author of which was an Indian by the name of Qutan Xida
Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha, astronomer, astrologer and compiler of Indian descent, known for leading the compilation of the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era during the Tang Dynasty. He was born in Chang'an, and his family was originally from India, according to a tomb stele uncovered in 1977 in Xi'an...

—a translation of Devanagari Gotama Siddha—the director of the Tang dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

's national astronomical observatory.

The astronomical table of sines by the Indian astronomer and mathematician
Indian mathematics
Indian mathematics emerged in the Indian subcontinent from 1200 BCE until the end of the 18th century. In the classical period of Indian mathematics , important contributions were made by scholars like Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskara II. The decimal number system in use today was first...

 Aryabhatan was translated into the Chinese astronomical and mathematical book Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
The Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era is a Chinese astrology encyclopedia compiled by the lead editor Gautama Siddha and numerous scholars from 714 to 724 AD during the Kaiyuan era of Tang Dynasty. The compilation is attributed to the author by 729. Its full title is regarded as the Great...

(Kaiyuan Zhanjing), compiled in 718 AD during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

. The Kaiyuan Zhanjing was compiled by Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha, astronomer, astrologer and compiler of Indian descent, known for leading the compilation of the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era during the Tang Dynasty. He was born in Chang'an, and his family was originally from India, according to a tomb stele uncovered in 1977 in Xi'an...

, an astronomer and astrologer born in Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

, and whose family was originally from India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

. He was also notable for his translation of the Navagraha
Navagraha
Graha is a 'cosmic influencer' on the living beings of mother Bhumidevi . In Hindu astrology, the Navagraha are some of these major influencers.All the navagraha have relative movement with respect to the background of fixed stars in the zodiac...

 calendar into Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

.

Islamic astronomy

Islamic astronomers were brought to China
Islam in China
Throughout the history of Islam in China, Chinese Muslims have influenced the course of Chinese history. Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society...

 in order to work on calendar making and astronomy during the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 and the succeeding Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. The Chinese scholar Yeh-lu Chu'tsai accompanied Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 to Persia in 1210 and studied their calendar for use in the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 brought Iranians to Beijing to construct an observatory
Beijing Ancient Observatory
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is a pretelescopic observatory located in Beijing, China. The revolutionary tools used within this ancient observatory were built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty, and later amended during the Qing....

 and an institution for astronomical studies.

Several Chinese astronomers worked at the Maragheh observatory
Maragheh observatory
Maragheh observatory is an astronomical observatory which was established in 1259 CE by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, an Iranian scientist and astronomer...

, founded by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

 in 1259 under the patronage of Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

 in Persia. One of these Chinese astronomers was Fu Mengchi, or Fu Mezhai. In 1267, the Persian astronomer Jamal ad-Din
Jamal ad-Din (astronomer)
Jamal ad-Din Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir ibn Muḥammad al‐Zaydī al‐Bukhārī was a 13th-century Persian-speaking Muslim astronomer...

, who previously worked at Maragha observatory, presented Kublai Khan with seven Persian astronomical instruments, including a terrestrial globe
Globe
A globe is a three-dimensional scale model of Earth or other spheroid celestial body such as a planet, star, or moon...

 and an armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

, as well as an astronomical almanac
Almanac
An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, and tide tables, containing tabular information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar etc...

, which was later known in China as the Wannian Li ("Ten Thousand Year Calendar" or "Eternal Calendar"). He was known as "Zhamaluding" in China, where, in 1271, he was appointed by Khan as the first director of the Islamic observatory in Beijing, known as the Islamic Astronomical Bureau, which operated alongside the Chinese Astronomical Bureau for four centuries. Islamic astronomy gained a good reputation in China for its theory of planetary latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

s, which did not exist in Chinese astronomy at the time, and for its accurate prediction of eclipses.

Some of the astronomical instruments constructed by the famous Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing , courtesy name Ruosi , was a Chinese astronomer, engineer, and mathematician born in Xingtai, Hebei who lived during the Yuan Dynasty...

 shortly afterwards resemble the style of instrumentation built at Maragheh. In particular, the "simplified instrument" (jianyi) and the large gnomon
Gnomon
The gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts the shadow. Gnomon is an ancient Greek word meaning "indicator", "one who discerns," or "that which reveals."It has come to be used for a variety of purposes in mathematics and other fields....

 at the Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory
Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory
Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory, also known as the Dengfeng Observatory, is a World Heritage Site in Duke Zhou Gong's shrine, Gaocheng Town, near Dengfeng in Henan Province, China. This site has a long tradition of astronomical observations, from the time of the Western Zhou up to the early Yuan...

 show traces of Islamic influence. While formulating the Shoushili calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

 in 1281, Shoujing's work in spherical trigonometry
Spherical trigonometry
Spherical trigonometry is a branch of spherical geometry which deals with polygons on the sphere and the relationships between the sides and the angles...

 may have also been partially influenced by Islamic mathematics, which was largely accepted at Kublai's court. These possible influences include a pseudo-geometrical method for converting between equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

ial and ecliptic coordinates
Ecliptic coordinate system
The ecliptic coordinate system is a celestial coordinate system that uses the ecliptic for its fundamental plane. The ecliptic is the path that the sun appears to follow across the celestial sphere over the course of a year. It is also the intersection of the Earth's orbital plane and the celestial...

, the systematic use of decimal
Decimal
The decimal numeral system has ten as its base. It is the numerical base most widely used by modern civilizations....

s in the underlying parameters, and the application of cubic interpolation in the calculation of the irregularity in the planetary motions.

Emperor Taizu
Taizu
Taizu is an imperial temple name typically used for those who founded a particular dynasty. It may refer to :*Shi Hu of Later Zhao *Emperor Taizu of Liao...

 (r. 1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 (1328–1398), in the first year of his reign (1368), conscripted Han and non-Han astrology specialists from the astronomical institutions in Beijing of the former Mongolian Yuan to Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 to become officials of the newly established national observatory.

That year, the Ming government summoned for the first time the astronomical officials to come south from the upper capital of Yuan. There were fourteen of them. In order to enhance accuracy in methods of observation and computation, Emperor Taizu reinforced the adoption of parallel calendar systems, the Han
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 and the Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

. In the following years, the Ming Court appointed several Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 astrologers to hold high positions in the Imperial Observatory. They wrote many books on Islamic astronomy and also manufactured astronomical equipment based on the Islamic system.

The translation of two important works into Chinese was completed in 1383: Zij (1366) and al-Madkhal fi Sina'at Ahkam al-Nujum, Introduction to Astrology (1004).

In 1384, a Chinese astrolabe
Astrolabe
An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers. Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and longitude, surveying, triangulation, and to...

 was made for observing stars based on the instructions for making multi-purposed Islamic equipment. In 1385, the apparatus was installed on a hill in northern Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

.

Around 1384, during the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

 ordered the Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 translation and compilation of Islamic astronomical tables
Zij
Zīj is the generic name applied to Islamic astronomical books that tabulate parameters used for astronomical calculations of the positions of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets. The name is derived from the Middle Persian term zih or zīg, meaning cord...

, a task that was carried out by the scholars Mashayihei, a Muslim astronomer, and Wu Bozong, a Chinese scholar-official. These tables came to be known as the Huihui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 Lifa
(Muslim System of Calendrical Astronomy), which was published in China a number of times until the early 18th century, though the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 had officially abandoned the tradition of Chinese-Islamic astronomy in 1659.

Jesuit activity in China

The introduction of Western science to China by Jesuit priest astronomers was a mixed blessing during the late 16th century and early 17th century.

The telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

 was introduced to China in the early 17th century. The telescope was first mentioned in Chinese writing by Emanuel Diaz (Yang MaNuo)
Manuel Dias (Yang MaNuo)
Father Manuel Dias , also known as Emanuel Diaz, was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who introduced for the first time in China the telescope in the early 17th century, just three years after Galileo presented it. The telescope was first mentioned in his Tian Wen Lüe in 1615...

, who wrote his Tian Wen Lüe in 1615. In 1626, Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell was a German Jesuit and astronomer. He spent most of his life as a missionary in China and became an adviser to the Chinese emperor.- Life :...

 (Tang Ruowang) published the Chinese treatise on the telescope known as the Yuan Jing Shuo (The Far-Seeing Optic Glass). The Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 (明思宗, 1627–1644) of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 acquired the telescope of Johannes Terrentius
Johann Schreck
Johann Schreck, also Terrenz or Terrentius Constantiensis, Deng Yuhan Hanpo, Deng Zhen Lohan, was a German Jesuit, missionary to China and polymath...

 (or Johann Schreck; Deng Yu-han) in 1634, ten years before the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. However, the impact on Chinese astronomy was limited.

The Jesuit China missions
Jesuit China missions
The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts and other work of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, between the 16th and 17th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of...

 of the 16th and 17th centuries brought Western astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. After the Galileo affair
Galileo affair
The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, during which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Aristotelian scientific view of the universe , over his support of Copernican astronomy....

 early in the 17th century, the Roman Catholic Jesuit order was required to adhere to geocentrism and ignore the heliocentric teachings of Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

 and his followers, even though they were becoming standard in European astronomy. Thus, the Jesuits shared an Earth-centered and largely pre-Copernican
Copernican Revolution
The Copernican Revolution refers to the paradigm shift away from the Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the galaxy, towards the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of our Solar System...

 astronomy with their Chinese hosts (i.e., the Ptolemaic-Aristotelian
Aristotelian physics
Aristotelian Physics the natural sciences, are described in the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle . In the Physics, Aristotle established general principles of change that govern all natural bodies; both living and inanimate, celestial and terrestrial—including all motion, change in respect...

 views from Hellenistic times). The Chinese were often fundamentally opposed to this as well, since the Chinese had long believed (from the ancient doctrine of Xuan Ye) that the celestial bodies floated in a void of infinite space. This contradicted the Aristotelian view of solid concentric crystalline spheres, where there was not a void, but a mass of air between the heavenly bodies.

Of course, the views of Copernicus, Galileo
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

, and Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 would eventually triumph in European science, and these ideas slowly leaked into China despite Jesuit efforts to curb them in the beginning. In 1627, the Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 Jesuit Michael Boym (Bu Mige) introduced Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

's Copernican Rudolphine Tables with much enthusiasm to the Ming court at Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. In Adam Schall von Bell's Chinese-written treatise of Western astronomy in 1640, the names of Copernicus (Ge-Bai-Ni), Galileo (Jia-li-lüe), and Tycho Brahe (Di-gu) were formally introduced to China. There were also Jesuits in China who were in favor of the Copernican theory, such as Nicholas Smogulecki and Wenceslaus Kirwitzer. However, Copernican views were not widespread or wholly accepted in China during this time.

Ferdinand Augustin Hallerstein (Liu Songling) created the first spherical astrolabe as the Head of the Imperial Astronomical Bureau from 1739 until 1774. The former Beijing Astronomical observatory, now a museum, still hosts the armillary sphere with rotating rings, which was made under Hallerstein’s leadership and is considered the most prominent astronomical instrument.

While in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 aided the Japanese with the first modern observatory of Japan in 1725, headed by Nakane Genkei, whose observatory of astronomers wholly accepted the Copernican view. In contrast, the Copernican view was not accepted in mainstream China until the early 19th century, with the Protestant missionaries such as Joseph Edkins
Joseph Edkins
Joseph Edkins was a British Protestant missionary who spent 57 years in China, 30 of them in Beijing. As a Sinologue, he specialized in Chinese religions. He was also a linguist, a translator, and a philologist. Writing prolifically, he penned many books about the Chinese language and the Chinese...

, Alex Wylie, and John Fryer
John Fryer
Captain John Fryer RN was the sailing master on the HMAV Bounty, a British vessel made famous by the Mutiny on the Bounty....

.

Famous Chinese astronomers

  • Gan De
    Gan De
    Gan De was a Chinese astronomer/astrologer born in the State of Qi also known as the Lord Gan . Along with Shi Shen, he is believed to be the first in history known by name to compile a star catalogue, preceded by the anonymous authors of the early Babylonian star catalogues and followed by the...

  • Guo Shoujing
    Guo Shoujing
    Guo Shoujing , courtesy name Ruosi , was a Chinese astronomer, engineer, and mathematician born in Xingtai, Hebei who lived during the Yuan Dynasty...

  • Shen Kuo
    Shen Kuo
    Shen Kuo or Shen Gua , style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng , was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty...

  • Shi Shen
    Shi Shen
    Shi Shen was a Chinese astronomer and contemporary of Gan De born in the State of Wei, also known as the Master Shi Shen .-Observations:...

  • Su Song
    Su Song
    Su Song was a renowned Chinese polymath who specialized himself as a statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, mechanical and architectural engineer, poet, antiquarian, and ambassador of the Song Dynasty .Su Song was the engineer of a...

  • Xu Guangqi
    Xu Guangqi
    Xu Guangqi , was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of...

  • Zhang Heng
    Zhang Heng
    Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

  • Yunq Millz

Observatory

  • Beijing Ancient Observatory
    Beijing Ancient Observatory
    The Beijing Ancient Observatory is a pretelescopic observatory located in Beijing, China. The revolutionary tools used within this ancient observatory were built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty, and later amended during the Qing....

  • Astro Observatory

See also

  • History of astronomy
  • Chinese constellations
  • Traditional Chinese star names
    Traditional Chinese star names
    Traditional Chinese star names are the names of stars used in ancient Chinese literature, history, religion, mythology, folklore, Chinese opera and such methods of divination as astrology, horoscope and Feng shui...

  • Timeline of Chinese astronomy
    Timeline of Chinese astronomy
    This is a timeline of Chinese records and investigations in astronomy.*2137 BC - October 22, Chinese book Classic of History; records the earliest known solar eclipse....

  • Chinese astrology
    Chinese astrology
    Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty ....


  • Chinese mathematics
    Chinese mathematics
    Mathematics in China emerged independently by the 11th century BC. The Chinese independently developed very large and negative numbers, decimals, a place value decimal system, a binary system, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry....

  • Chu Silk Manuscript
    Chu silk manuscript
    The Chu Silk Manuscript , also known as the Chu Silk Manuscript from Zidanku in Changsha , is a Chinese astrological and astronomical text. It was discovered in a Warring States period tomb from the southern Chinese state of Chu.-History:...

  • Book of Silk
    Book of Silk
    The Divination by Astrological and Meteorological Phenomena , also known as Book of Silk is an ancient astronomy silk manuscript compiled by Chinese astronomers of the Western Han Dynasty and found in the Mawangdui tomb of China in 1973...

  • Indian astronomy
  • Islamic astronomy
    Islamic astronomy
    Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy comprises the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age , and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, and North Africa, and...



Further reading

  • Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, edited by Helaine Selin. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997. S.v. "Astronomy in China" by Ho Peng Yoke.
  • Sun Xiaochun, "Crossing the Boundaries Between Heaven and Man: Astronomy in Ancient China" in Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy, edited by H. Selin, pp. 423–454. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000.
  • Chan Ki-hung: Chinese Ancient Star Map, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, 2002, ISBN 962-7054-09-7
  • Gems of the ancient Chinese astronomy relics, ISBN 962-7797-03-0

External links

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