The Chinese Sky During the Han: Constellating Stars and Society

Front Cover
Xiaochun Sun, Jacob Kistemaker
BRILL, 1997 - Social Science - 240 pages
A reconstruction of the Chinese sky of two thousand years ago, based on analysis of the first star catalogue in China and other sources. Presented in six well-sized star maps for 100 BC, it is especially important for the history of astronomy. The Han sky, with five times more constellations than Ptolemy knew, reflects diverse human activities. The way in which constellations were grouped discloses a systematic cosmology, uniting universe and the state. The work of the three Han schools is comparable to Ptolemy's "Almagest," With three detailed Appendices on the constellations of the three schools, well illustrated to demonstrate the relation between sky and human society, this book is valuable not only for astronomy historians and sinologists, but in general for scholars interested in the ancient cultures of Asia.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Brief History of Chinese Constellations
Constellations of Shi Shi
Development by Gan Shi and Wuxian Shi
Philosophy of the Chinese Sky
Main Structures in the Sky and their Meanings
The Constellations of Shi Shi
The Constellations of Gan Shi
The Constellations of Wuxian Shi
Index of Star Names
General Index

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 213 - Reflections of the lunar aspect on Western Chou chronology,

About the author (1997)

Sun Xiaochun, Ph.D. (1993) in History of Science, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Beijing, is Associate Professor of History of Chinese Astronomy at the CAS-Institute for the History of Natural Sciences in Beijing. Jacob Kistemaker, Ph.D. (1945) in Physics, University of Leiden, was Professor of Physics at the Leiden University, founder and director of the FOM-Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam and curator of the Teyler Museum in Haarlem during 30 years. He is a member of the Academies of Science in Amsterdam, Brussels and Moscow.

Bibliographic information