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China

  The Chinese have a very long history of astronomical observations reaching back to the 13th century B.C. They noted solar eclipses as well as supernova events (exploding stars). The most impressive of these events was the observation on 1054 A.D. of such a supernova event which lasted for 2 years, after that the star dimmed and disappeared from view. The astronomical observations were sufficiently precise for later astronomers to determine that the location of that exploding star is now occupied by the crab nebula (Fig. 2.5); it was then shown that this nebula is expanding and, extrapolating backwards, that this expansion started in 1054 A.D.


 
Figure 2.5: The Crab nebula, the remnant of a supernova.  
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The first Chinese cosmography imagines a round sky over a square Earth with the sun and heavens revolving around the Earth. Later this was replaced by a round Earth around which all heavenly bodies rotate. These theories propagated throughout Eastern Asia.



Jose Wudka
9/24/1998