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A Study of the Astronomical Clock Tower and Xin Yi Xiang Fa Yao

Gao Xuan (Tsinghua University, Beijing)

The Astronomical Clock Tower was constructed by Su Song and Han Gonglian from December of 1088 to January of 1089. It was the single one as an astronomical instrument in ancient China, which could not only reckon by time, but also observe and demonstrate the astronomical phenomena. Because it was in the Song Dynasty as the peak of the development of science and technology of ancient China that the Astronomical Clock Tower was made, and it had the characters of huge volume, high accuracy and complicated structure, it has been widely noticed by many researchers on the history of science and technology in the world.

Xin Yi Xiang Fa Yao, written by Su Song in 1096, made a detailed description and exact figures an the Astronomical Clock Tower, and this book is very valuable to study the instrument. This paper has collated Xin Yi Xiang Fa Yao with its different editions in ancient China, and then many records on the instrument from other ancient books and studied some information of them.

Many scholars have studied the Astronomical Clock Tower, and completed a series of papers and books on it and constructed several models of this instrument since the 1950s. In addition, this paper describes briefly the achievements those scholars have studied the Astronomical Clock Tower.

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