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Astron. Astrophys. 332, 1142-1146 (1998)

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1. Introduction

The calendar of Shoushi is one of the most famous calendars in ancient China, which was recorded in Lizhi (ancient calendar book of China) of Yuanshi (annals of Yuan Dynasty AD 1279-1367). The mathematical method adopted in this calendar, far ahead of the foundation of Newton's mechanical system, summed up voluminous real measuring results. Now the computations of Chinese ancient calendars always puzzle us. The main problem is that the original is hard to read and understand. In this paper, we only try to put the whole calculations in order, so that the systematic mathematical models were reduced from the original, such as the calculations of mean and real syzygys, the corrections of solar and lunar motions. Then these computing models were compared with present theories of the solar and lunar motions. Finally, we give the accuracy of real new Moon computations in its publishing periods (Li and Zhang 1996a, b & c; Li 1997). In the system of ancient Chinese calendars, the researches on the calculations of other parts of the calendars, such as eclipses, were all based upon syzygy computations. Because ancient calendars, just as Shoushi, are also thought of as one kind of original materials that include a great number of actual ancient celestial records, these observations could help to identify the reality of historical events, to recover even some omitted data. If we could obtain these records again, the data would be very useful to contemporary studies, especially to the secular variation of the Earth's rotation.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: March 30, 1998