Armillary sphere, Beijing, China

Armillary sphere, Beijing, China

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Armillary sphere at the Imperial Astronomical Observatory, Beijing (Peking), China. This observatory was built in 1442 to facilitate both astronomical purposes and seafaring navigation. It was later refitted in the late 17th century by the Jesuits. Additional bronze instruments were supervised by Jesuit astronomer Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688), a Flemish priest and a special advisor to the Qing court regarding the correction of the Chinese calendar. The armillary sphere would have been used to measure the coordinates of the celestial bodies. It is constructed from two bronze disks: the ecliptic armillary, for tracking the sun, and the equatorial armillary, for tracking other astronomical bodies.

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