Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Astronomy in Ancient and Medieval China

J. Needham
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Vol. 276, No. 1257, The Place of Astronomy in the Ancient World (May 2, 1974), pp. 67-82
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/74275
Page Count: 20
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Astronomy in Ancient and Medieval China
Preview not available

Abstract

Chinese astronomy differed from that of the Western world in two important respects: (a) it was polar and equatorial rather than planetary and ecliptic, (b) it was an activity of the bureaucratic state rather than of priests or independent scholars. Both features had advantages and disadvantages; the first led to the mechanization of celestial models long before the West, but deferred recognition of equinoctial precession till later. The second ensured remarkable sets of celestial observations antedating most of those recorded elsewhere, but discouraged causal speculation, especially in the absence of Euclidean deductive geometry. In cosmology, China developed three doctrines: (a) the Kai Thien universe, a domical geocentrism not unlike early Babylonian ideas, (b) the Hun Thien universe, essentially the recognition of the primary celestial spherical coordinates, and (c) the Hsuan Yeh system, which accepted the Hun Thien as methodologically necessary but viewed the heavenly bodies as lights of unknown nature floating in infinite empty space. Instrumentation developed early, armillary rings being in use by the end of the -2nd century and the complete armillary sphere by the end of the +1st.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
67
    67
  • Thumbnail: Page 
68
    68
  • Thumbnail: Page 
69
    69
  • Thumbnail: Page 
70
    70
  • Thumbnail: Page 
71
    71
  • Thumbnail: Page 
72
    72
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[unnumbered]
    [unnumbered]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[unnumbered]
    [unnumbered]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[unnumbered]
    [unnumbered]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[unnumbered]
    [unnumbered]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
73
    73
  • Thumbnail: Page 
74
    74
  • Thumbnail: Page 
75
    75
  • Thumbnail: Page 
76
    76
  • Thumbnail: Page 
77
    77
  • Thumbnail: Page 
78
    78
  • Thumbnail: Page 
79
    79
  • Thumbnail: Page 
80
    80
  • Thumbnail: Page 
81
    81
  • Thumbnail: Page 
82
    82