Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Jia Kui

  • Kevin D. Pang
Reference work entry

FlourishedXianyang (Shaanxi), China, 30–101

Jia Kui, a Chinese astronomer of the Later Han dynasty (25–220), improved Chinese understanding of the Moon’s motions and detected the precession of the equinoxes, improving Chinese calendars in the process. In the year 85, a group of astronomers including Jia Kui was put in charge of improving the Sifen (quarter-remainder) calendar then in use. He confirmed that the Moon’s velocity varies, with the highest speed being at perigee. He also deduced that the point of maximum velocity shifts forward by 3 min of arc each month. Whereas ancient Chinese astronomers generally used polar and equatorial coordinates, Jia Kui advocated the use of ecliptic coordinates as the more accurate frame of reference for studying solar and lunar motions.

Jia Kui had bronze ecliptic instruments cast and put in use at the Imperial Observatory. Jia Kui pointed out that the equinoxes used in the previous Taichu calendar (104 BCE) had already moved to new locations. The...

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Selected References

  1. Chen, Zungui (1985). History of Chinese Astronomy, revised edition, Ming Wen, Taibei, vol 5, (125–129).Google Scholar
  2. Chinese Grand Encyclopedia (1985). Volume on Astronomy. Beijing: Chinese Grand Encyclopedia Publishers, 80 volumes.Google Scholar
  3. Liu Hong and Cai Yong (398–446). “Lüli zhi” (Monograph on harmonics and the calendar. CE 178.) In Hou Han shu (History of the Later Han Dynasty) by Fan Ye.Google Scholar
  4. Needham, Joseph, with the assistance of Wang Ling (1959). Science and Civilisation in China. Vol. 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin D. Pang
    • 1
  1. 1.La Canada FlintridgeUSA