Purple Forbidden City and Star Trails
February 22, 2016
Shown above at top are stars trails around the north celestial pole as observed over the Purple Forbidden City, Beijing, China. The Purple Forbidden City, a World Heritage Site today, served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for almost 500 years.
The Purple Forbidden City is also a name with significance for ancient Chinese astronomy. Purple refers to the North Star (pictured in the center of the star trails), which in ancient China was called the Ziwei Star, and in traditional Chinese astrology was the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor. The surrounding celestial region was known as the Purple Forbidden Enclosure — shown in the drawing at the left. Its stars and constellations lie in a group about the north celestial pole. This symbolizes the realm of the Celestial Emperor and his family. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Photo taken on January 13, 2016.