Built in September 1957, the Beijing Planetarium was the first of its kind in China. It is located at the Xizhimenwai Avenue of Beijing.
The planetarium, with its cupola measuring 23.5 meters in diameter, is the main focus of interest of the entire complex. At regular intervals, 45-minute presentations take the visitor on a trip through the heavens made possible by projectors installed in the center of the hall which faithfully reproduce an image of the starry sky on the inside of the cupola.In the courtyard are two astronomical observatories, one of which is equipped with a huge telescope measuring 13 centimeters in diameter, and visitors can observe moon, planets, nebulae and star clusters, etc., via the telescope. On the west side of the planetarium is the astronomy square with observation apparatuses for visitors.
The planetarium also runs Astronomy Fan magazine by itself and Trade Edition Astronomical Calendar magazine jointly with Purple Mountain Observatory.
The Ancient Observatory under the administration of the Beijing Planetarium is a fascinating place to visit. The Observatory, built in 1442, displays astronomical instruments of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), such as celestial globe, plane sundial, rotary star dial, and so on. The Observatory includes a cluster of buildings such as Ziwei Hall, Sundial Shadow Hall and other auxiliary structures.
Right below the Observatory are three halls, which exhibit the astronomical achievements in ancient China, epigraphs from Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and so on.