Astronomical observations

Pyongyang, August 31 (KCNA) — Korea has a long history of astronomical and meteorological activities.

According to information available, Kojoson (the first ever state in Korea that existed from early 30th century BC To 108 BC) had an astronomical observation group called Chomsongdan and since 1682 BC, an agricultural calendar came into use. The astronomical chart “map of distribution of celestial bodies” drawn up in the 450s bc is a proof of our ancestors’ high level of observation. The chart was engraved upon a large slabstone at a spot near Pyongyang, but later, it is said, it was thrown into a river in the time of a war.
But its printed version remains to this day. On it, 1,46 stars are grouped into 283 constellations in the arctic-centred polar coordinates.
Astronomical observation further developed during the period of three kingdoms (Koguryo, Paekje and Silla).
Koguryo (from 277 BC to 668 AD) had a group observing, studying and recording the astronomical phenomena throughout the day under a certain system and discipline. In the walled capital city of Pyongyang, an astronomical observatory was at work to observe solar eclipse and other astronomical phenomena. In September 640, they discovered big spots on the surface of the sun and recorded it.
Paekje (from mid-3rd century BC to 660 AD), too, observed solar and lunar eclipses, planets, meteors, earthquakes, frost, hail and so on. Its calendar designated a year as amounting to 365.2467 days and a month as 29.53058 days.
Silla (from mid-1st century to 935) had Chomsongdae, a famous observatory, set up in Kyongju in the first half of the 7th century. It is believed to be one of the oldest observatories in the world that preserve the original shape and state. A sundial was also made and used.
In Koryo (from 918 to 1392), a national observatory worked in Kaesong and almost all parts of the land conducted observation and recording. The observation of wind started in January 950, that of hail in 1013, that of frost in April 1012, that of muddy rain in February 1009, that of clouds in November 1020, that of thunderclap in September 948, that of abnormal temperature in June 1014 and that of halo in November 1010. During the 474 years of Koryo’s existence, a great deal of information was accumulated – for instance, 172 entries on damage from the cold, 65 entries of flood damage and 32 entries on abnormal temperature.
In the Ri dynasty (from 1392 to 1910) our meteorological activity made rapid progress. Sounkwan, the national agency, was renamed “Kwansanggam” in January 1467, where the experts studied astronomy, geography, meteorology and such like. In August 1441 a metal rain gauge was devised – the earliest one in the world. This instrument was a big bowl of copper or cast-iron supported by a slabstone. It is on display at the Korea Central History Museum.
In 1799, a mercury barometer called “Chongugye” was used for weather forecast, and it is believed that a vane was used.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/comradeanatolii/7157134437/

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