In 1977, a group of archaeologists unearthed several precious relics from an ancient tomb.
For 35 years, researchers wondered about the nature of the devices and now the old archaeological mystery has finally been solved.
The relics were discovered in the tomb of Xiahou Zao, the 2nd Marquis of Ruyin of the Western Han dynasty.
Scientists named a piece of lacquerware "lacquerware of unknown name", for no one has been able to identify it.
After more than two years cooperative study with experts from the Anhui Museum and the Fuyang Municipal Museum, SHI Yunli,
professor from the Department of the History of Science and Scientific Archaeology, University of Science and Technology of
China reveals that the instruments discovered in the tomb are in fact a gnomon with template and an equatorial device for the
positional measurement of celestial bodies.
They are among the oldest instruments for astronomical measurement that can still be seen in the world.
The gnomon with template is a typical instrument used by ancient Chinese astronomer in determining the advent of different seasons with
the gnomon shadows cast on the template by the midday sun.
It consists of a vertical pole and a level template laid in south-north direction at the foot of the pole.
The gnomon with template from the tomb of XIAHOU Zao has two symmetric and foldable parts.
As being fully set up in the south-north direction, the midday sun will cast the shadow of a vertical tablet in the northern half
onto three fixed positions on the template respectively on the days of the Summer Solstice, the Vernal/Autumnal Equinoxes, and the Winter Solstice.
Replica of the Gnomon with Template from the Tomb of XIAHOU Zao (Image by SHI Yunli)
According to SHI Yunli, "geographically, this type of gnomon with template can only be used on the given latitude, and the one from the tomb of Xiahou Zao
fits just right with the region between the capital of the dynasty Chang'an and the fief of the Marquis of Ruyin Fuyang."
The edges of the two overlapping disks are marked respectively with the complete degrees of a celestial circle, and the names and degrees of each of the
28 lunar lodges.
A Replica of the Equatorial Device from the Tomb of XIAHOU Zao (Image by SHI Yunli)
Previous studies have suggested that they may make either an astrological tool similar to the two cosmic disks for divination from the same tomb, or a
kind of astronomical instrument, but both theories are in need of definite evidence. The new study shows that the disks are actually two components of
one astronomical measuring instrument.
Mounted on top of a "lacquerware box" unearthed from the same tomb, they form a complete device good for the equatorial observation fitting just right
with the geographical latitude of Fuyang.
This is once again proof of who sophisticated ancient astronomers were.
Millennia Old Astronomical Secret Revealed
In 1943, an ancient papyrus was bought by the Cairo museum.
It was written in Hieratic and although portions of it were eaten away by ants, it was a very precious ancient document.
The papyrus contained three separate books dealing with astronomy. One of the books was the Cairo Calendar, and now it reveals an ancient astronomical secret...
Big Bang Machine Discovers Unknown Particle
Physicists at Cern have not yet been able to confirm the existence of
the elusive "God particle", but they have nevertheless made another interesting discovery
Scientists announced that the Large Hadron Collider, often referred to as the Big Bang machine has detected an unknown particle composed of three quarks.
A New Riddle To Ponder:
'Dark Halo' Reveals An Astronomical Surprise
Surprisingly, some of the oldest galaxies in the Universe have three times more stellar mass, and so many more stars, than
all current models of galaxy evolution predict.
A new finding made by the Atlas3D international team, led by an Oxford University scientist, helped to find a way to remove
the 'halo' of dark matter that has clouded previous calculations.
Mysterious Monolith At Gardom's Edge Was An Ancient Astronomical Calendar
Scientists have now reason to think that an ancient 4000-year-old stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical calendar, according to new archaeological evidence.
The 2.2 metre high monument, located in the Peak District National Park, has a striking, right-angled triangular shape that slants up towards geographic south.
The orientation and inclination of the slope is aligned to the altitude of the Sun at mid-summer.
Something New Spotted On The Sun
One day in the fall of 2011, Neil Sheeley, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., did what he always does –
look through the daily images of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
But on this day he saw something he'd never noticed before: a pattern of cells with bright centers and dark boundaries occurring in the sun's atmosphere, the corona...
Hidden Misshapen Celestial "Wonder"
It is one of the brightest and strangest objects in the Milky Way - the corpse of a star that exploded around 1000 years ago.
Only a handful of such young supernova remnants are known.
The object named G350.1-0.3 is also incredibly small (only eight light years across) and young in astronomical terms.