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Ancient Observatories
Gaocheng

Gaocheng Astronomical ObservatoryThis site was established in 1279 AD by the famous astronomer Guo Shoujing. It is the oldest of 27 ancient observatories in China. Built with bricks and stone, the building has two parts, the platform and the stone Chinese sundial.

Ancient Chinese astronomers brooded over solar eclipses and sunspots to divine future events for The Emperor. Observatories were the launching pads for exploring the mystical ties between the mundane and the cosmic.

Location:
About eight miles from Dengfeng - China
Latitude: 34° 30' N
Longitude: 113° 6' East

Alignment:
It was designed originally for use in predicting the time of the solstice each year. Astronomers at the site were able to calculate the actual length of the year to 365.2425 days some 300 years before Europeans managed to develop the Gregorian calendar.

Construction:
Established in 1279 AD by the famous astronomer Guo Shoujing. It is the oldest of 27 ancient observatories in China. Built with bricks and stone, the building has two parts, the platform and the stone Chinese sundial. On the 28 foot high platform, there are two small cottages on each side. To the north of the platform is an entry and exit, which are symmetrically arranged. Linking the entry and exit to the platform are stairs and pathways. Between the two pathways is the 93 foot long stone Chinese sundial, which was paved by 36 slates.

According to historical records, a total of 27 observatories were built in the Yuan Dynasty but only the one in Dengfeng is known to have survived. Gaocheng Observatory is the oldest facility of its kind in China. The observatory dates to the early portion of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD). 

by: Courtesy of NASA

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Source: http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2005/locations/gaocheng.htm

Photo: ChinaCulture.org

  

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