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Ancient Observatory

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Introduction
The Ancient Beijing Observatory is located near the heart of downtown Beijing on the south side of famous Chang'an Avenue. When it was originally built, in the Guo Shoujing (1231-1316) period of the Yuan dynasty, it had a slightly different name but the same intent: to explore the heavens.

History & Background
Over the course of more than five hundred years, through Ming and Qing dynasties and on into the period after the Xinhai Revolution (1911), this location has been used to observe phenomena of the skies. This is the longest historical record of using any such observatory for so long. At present, eight large bronze implements for viewing the heavens are arrayed on the top of the museum's tower; these date from the Qing dynasty. Under the tower is a hall built between the years 1442 and 1446, during the Ming dynasty. To the east and west are subsidiary rooms and other ancient structures. 

The observatory's platform, rebuilt in recent years, is 17 meters high and holds exhibition rooms inside. If you walk through the door with the three characters for the observatory carved above it, you find a three-level exhibition space devoted to China's ancient astronomical accomplishments. A stone-carved star map from Suzhou is exhibited here, as well as the ceiling astronomical map from Longfu Temple, two rare treasures. The former was done in the Song dynasty in the year 1247. It depicts 1,434 stars and is recognized as one of the best early star maps in the world. The latter was accomplished in the Ming period, but from the characters carved on the side of the map one can see that the underlying information already existed in the Tang dynasty.

Function
In the courtyard of the museum, surrounded by ancient trees, the hall and east gate areas exhibit early astronomical instruments and the methods and changes in making them. In the western chamber some 150 early methods of calculating calendars in China are exhibited. 

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Archaic as well as more recent astronomical water clocks and contemporary astronomical clocks are exhibited. Eight bronze astronomical instruments are arranged on the top of the platform, as per the Qing-dynasty emperor Qianlong's instructions.

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Information
Address: Beijing City, Dongcheng District, Jianguomen Dong Biaobei Hutong,#2.

Telephone: 86-10-65128923

Opening Time: 9:00-11:00, 13:00-17:00(Not allowed to enter inside after 16:00). Closed on Monday and Tuesday

Admission: CNY10 per person

Transportation
By Subway: Take subway Line 1 or subway Line 2 to Jianguomen Station. Get out from Exit C. Then walk for about 220m (250 yards) to the ticket office.

By Bus: Take bus 39, 43, 44, 52, 122, 139, 637, 638 or Special Line 2 or 12 and get off at Jianguomen Nan Station, and then walk north along South Jianguomen Street for 5 minutes there.

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