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Observatory snaps reach for the stars

    In 1901, the staff at Sheshan Observatory, now part of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, took its first photo of the universe in China. Since then, more than 30,000 photos of universe have been taken.

    An exhibition recently opened displaying some of these pictures at Shanghai Astronomy Museum in Sheshan Observatory, with 48 snaps showcased from that 30,000-piece library, including the comet shoemaker-levy 9 collision with Jupiter in 1994.

    Under strong gravity, the comet shoemaker-levy 9 was torn into apart and knocked into the Jupiter, leaving a large collision trace. Shanghai Astronomical Observatory followed the event and took precious pictures. It was the first time people had observed one comet collision with Jupiter.

    For a long time, the technology of reading old film was limited and only a little information could be used.

    Then, five years ago, a film and photo digitalization laboratory was built in Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and a project was launched to breathe life back into all of those old original 30,000 pictures, from all over China, taken in an analogue form.

    Sheshan Observatory took more than 200 pictures for the Orion Nebula between 1902 and 1998. This time, the photos shot in 1902 and 1992 are both on display for comparison.

    "The change of nebula in one century is invisible for eyes. Through the picture, the location of one fixed star would change only two micron in a century," said Zhao Jianhai, one of the curators of the exhibition and the senior engineer of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory.

    "The preservation and digitalization of old films are the dream of the universe catchers in the past," said Tang Haiming, another curator and the science-popularizing chief in Shanghai Astronomical Observatory.

    "This exhibition is not only the show of beauty, but also a wish to encourage visitors exploring the secret of the astronomy."

    Shanghai Astronomy Museum

    Date: Through June 2018, 8:30am-4pm (closed on Monday)

    Tickets: Adult: 12 yuan; Children: 6 yuan

    Tel: 5765-1723, 5765-1609

    Address: Western Sheshan Hill