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Crossing The Boundaries Between Heaven And Man: Astronomy In Ancient China

Sun Xiao-chun
Published 2000 · Geography

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Ancient Chinese astronomy has been the subject of intensive and often brilliant studies in both the East and West throughout the 20th century (Needham, 1959; Anon., 1981). Most studies have focused on scientific aspects, extracting from historical sources the precursory knowledge of modern astronomy, evaluating the ancient knowledge and practice of the art with modern standards of objectivity and rationality, and discussing astronomical inventions and discoveries in a global context. Indeed, ancient Chinese astronomy was in many ways similar to the western tradition. Both had the same sky as the common object of study, both made observations and measurements of the heavens and formed certain models or theories to understand or explain celestial phenomena, and both used sophisticated mathematical techniques for prediction and retrodic-tion. Therefore, such studies are not only meaningful but also necessary, for they provide us with facts and useful insights to create a clear picture of ancient Chinese astronomy.
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