Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ancient Observatory Park @ National Planetarium

The ancient observatory park just outside the National Planetarium is worth a visit as the park exhibits a few interesting replicas and actual astronomical structures used locally and throughout the world.

The sundial is a time measuring instrument using the principle of changes in the shadow of an object in sunlight. The time measured using this method is known as the local apparent time because it is based on the position of the apparent sun at the local latitude.

The sundial at the National Planetarium is a semi circle equatorial type. This sundial is found to the most appropriate because Kuala Lumpur is located at the equator. The shadow of the yellow style that falls on the light blue dial plate shows the time. To ensure the accuracy of the sundial, the position of the dial plate is corrected for the sun's declination every few days.

This sculpture symbolises space and time. Time is potrayed through smooth flowing lines while space is depicted by the position of the spheres representing the planets. The Arabic numbers denote man's endeavour in understanding the universe.

The Merdeka Sundial was built in 1957 and officiated by the first Malaysian Prime Minister in conjunction with the officiating of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Tan Sri Stanley Edward Jewkes is the architect who designed and constructed the sundial. If seen from far, the sundial looks like a crescent moon of the federation government insignia. The shadow pointer is made of eleven sliced star which represent elevent states in Malaysia at that time.

In 1997, the Merdeka Sundial has been moved to the National Planetarium Complex due to the new development project at the park.

The Jantar Mantar (House of Instruments) in Delhi, India was built by Raja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1724. The large stone triangle is called Samrat Yantra (Emperor of Instruments). It is a giant sundial, its hypotenuse is inclined to the horizontal at an angel equal to the latitude of Delhi and parallel to the earth's axis. Two graduated quadrants are attached to its base, forming semi circle centred upon the hypotenuse. The shadow of the hypotenuse on the quadrants indicates the solar time as it sweeps along the quadrants by graduating the hypotenuse. It is also possible to read off solar altitude.

Stonehenge, the stone circle in Salisbury plain, England is an ancient monument with astronomical connections. It is believed to have been built around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The stones are arranged so that the shadows of certain stones cast by sunlight would point exactly towards the centre of the circle on the shortest and longest days of the year.

The Gou Shou Jing Observatory was built by an astronomer Guo Shou Jing and is located in Gao Cheng, China. This observatory was a source of calender and astronomical information that helped the order of Chinese life.

Stones carving which depict the local folklore legend of the owl and the moon.


Khin Hooi said...

Kuala Lumpur is not located on the equator.

Newspaper Star said...

I've been there. But totally no idea what are those monuments.