Astronomical Instruments

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     Ferdinand Verbiest (Chinese: Nan Hwia-jen, with various spellings), a Flemish Jesuit missionary and a renowned astronomer, went to China in 1658. In 1660 he was called to Peking to assist, and eventually to replace, Father Adam Schall von Bell in his astronomical work. In 1670 he made and installed several astronomical instruments at the Imperial Observatory in Peking. The stamp below has a portrait of Verbiest and a picture of the celestial globe he made for the Chinese emperor in 1673. By using the wheel attached to the polar axis, the globe can be turned to show the positions of the stars at any time of the day.

SCN B1077

     The stamp below features a sketch attributed to Verbiest of the instruments in the Imperial Observatory in Peking. It was issued with five others to commemorate Portuguese influence in the Far East. In the upper left corner is an azmuthal quadrant. In the upper right corner is a bipartite arc. The picture is actually of Tycho Brahe’s arc from Tycho's observatory as illustrated in his Astronomię instauratę mechanica (Wandesburg, 1598) rather than Verbiest’s. In the lower right corner is the celestial globe which Verbiest made for the emperor. The instrument in the lower left corner is a zodiacal armillary. The fifth instrument is a horizon circle..

SCN 609