Beijing Ancient Observatory is one of the oldest observatories in the world which was built in the 7th year of Zhengtong of the Ming Dynasty (1442). Situated on the platform, are huge astronomic intruments such as the celestilglobe, Equatorial armilla, ecliptic armilla, Altazimuth, Quadrant, Sextant, the Azimuth theodolite and the New armilla. Under the platform, there are attached buildings of the Purple Hall, Eastern and Western Wings and the Sun's hall. And the overall arrangement takes its initial form in the Ming Dynasty.
As one of the oldest observatories in the world, the Beijing Ancient Observatory covers an area of 10,000 square meters. This space is chiefly occupied by a ten-meter tall brick platform bearing several bronze instruments atop its mass. The observatory itself is located on the rooftop of what is now an astronomy museum.
During the latter of the Qing Dynasty, the Allied Forces invaded Beijing—an act which led to the subsequent theft of the Chinese instruments. Although nevertheless, as World War I neared closure, the instruments were returned to China by the French and German governments.
Eight magnificent and excellent equipment that are made of bronze stand high and upright on the black brick platform. They are celestial body equipment, equator theodolite, ecliptic theodolite, horizon longitude equipment, quadrant equipment, Simple Phenomena equipment, horizon theodolite and Jihenfuchen equipment made in Qing Dynasty.
The elaborate flying dragons, vivid colors are carved on the equipment body. Among which, part of them still has its function of actual observation. In second exhibition room inside the platform, it displays the China Ancient Astronomical Achievement Exhibition. Four exhibition rooms are set in the quad under the platform: The Ziwei Palace and East Wing-room exhibited the "Lingtai Equipment", which introduces the site of Lingtai, the reform of existing ancient observatory and the production of astronomical equipment and etc; while the exhibition in the West Wing-room will enlighten you the abundant calendars and important calendar reforms in China; the Shadow Observation House is the place that the astronomers in Ming and Qing Dynasty used to ascertain the time and conduct sun shadow measure.
It is the historical records of the longest successive observation period amongst the current existing ancient observatories in the world. Moreover, it also shares high reputation in the world die to its integrated building and completed equipment. In Kangxi and Qianlong periods in Qing Dynasty, the astronomical observatory added eight large-sized astronomical observatory equipment made of cooper one after another. They all adopt the European measurement and equipment construction.
Those astronomical equipment have large body, and beautiful sculpt, excellent engraving. Except for the Chinese tradition characterized aspects like sculpt, flower decoration and craftwork, etc, the other aspects like graduation, cursors and construction and etc also reflects the process and achievement of large-size astronomical equipment after the period of renaissance of the western Europe. It is the historical witness of oriental and western culture exchanges. They are not only the practical astronomy observation equipment but also the incomparable historic culture relic treasures.