The large bronze equatorial armillary that now resides at the Lo Schiavo Center for Science and Innovation is an exact replica of the original instrument still mounted atop the ancient observatory in Beijing, China. Cast in 1669 under the direction of the Flemish Jesuit, Ferdinand Verbiest, the armillary was one of a suite of astronomical instruments based on the latest technology in the years before the invention of the telescope. Their official role at the Imperial Court marked the high point of Jesuit influence during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and represents a seminal period of Chinese and Western astronomical, mathematical, and technological exchange. This lecture will explore the background and construction of these instruments, how they were used, and their importance in scientific exchange between East and West.
First in a series of four lectures on Faith and Reason: the Jesuit Legacy in East-West Scientific Exchange funded in part by the USF Jesuit Foundation.