Sheshan Observatory reopens the skies to the world
The Shanghai Astronomical Museum, commonly known as the Sheshan Observatory, has officially reopened to the public after its latest renovations.
Situated on the top of Sheshan Hill, the observatory's origin dates back to the Xujiahui Observatory in the downtown Xujiahui area, Hou Jinliang, Party chief of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Shanghai Daily.
In 1872, French missionaries built an observatory in Xujiahui, and imported a 40-centimeter aperture double-tube refracting telescope from France. However, the soil in Xujiahui was too soft to support the telescope, and thus they moved it to Sheshan Hill in Shanghai's western outskirts.
Construction on the Sheshan Observatory began in 1899 and was completed somewhere between 1900 and 1901.
The observatory has become known for its 40-centimeter telescope, known as the first modern telescope in China and one of the largest in Asia at the time. It has taken more than 10,000 photos, including China's first moon photo in 1901 and photos of the returns of Halley's comet in 1910 and 1986, Hou said.
Over the years, the telescope has become too old and dilapidated to use.
In 2014, the observatory was converted to an astronomical museum. The latest round of renovations began in 2019 and were completed by the end of last year. The observatory officially reopened to the public on April 27.
The renovation involves restoring the historic structures to their old look, repairing the treasured telescope and its dome, upgrading the exhibition and renovating the library, Hou said.
In particular, after renovation, its function as an observatory has been restored, and it has been renovated in a modern way in which it can be connected to modern cameras.
"Visitors, and people interested in astronomy can take photos through the telescope. Besides the moon, Saturn is also great to photograph because it has beautiful rings," Hou said.
Hou said the observatory staff are still repairing the old photos taken by the telescope. In the future, they may help Belt and Road countries to repair their old photos because the observatory owns one of the most advanced devices.
Other highlights of the observatory include a library, a star maps room and a meridian telescope room. Items used by French missionaries over a century ago such as a quill, a pianos and coffee grinders are displayed, allowing visitors to step back in a time machine to the 1900s.
Currently, Shanghai has two astronomical museums, with the other in Lingang, Pudong.
According to Hou, the Shenshan museum mainly tells the astronomical history while the Lingang museum showcases modern astronomical development achievements. The Xujiahui Observatory remains a scientific research institute.
If you go:
Admission: 12 yuan for an adult, 8 yuan for students and elders aged over 70 (online reservations required through Sheshan Observatory's WeChat account "SHAM-SHAO")
Tel: 5765-1609 or send e-mail to email@example.com for requests