Medieval rockets to first satellites

  • Brian Harvey
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


China has a long history in astronomy, astronautics, and rocketry. Although ancient astronomy began in Babylon, China was not far behind and has the longest history of continuous observing of any civilization. Eclipses were observed as far back as 2165 BC and records of stars can be found carved into bones dating to 1400 BC. A supernova was observed in Antares in 1300 BC and the first star catalogs were found in 350 BC, outlining the “mansions” of the sky, like western constellations. The first meteor showers were recorded in 687 BC. Comet Halley was observed in 467 BC and sunspots in 28 BC. The first sundials were made in 104 BC, the same year as the building of the first observatory, Zijin Shan (Purple Mountain) near Nanjing. A golden age of Chinese astronomy opened from the seventh century, when the emperor Yao commissioned the first star maps and calendar (AD 650). These star charts had 1,340 stars, 12 constellations, over-the-pole views, and used the Mercator system of projection [1]. China has a continuous history of weather records dating 3,000 years.


Song Dynasty Space Program Meteor Shower Satellite Project Aluminum Copper Alloy 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.Dublin 6WIreland

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