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Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Solar Eclipse Observatory 1688, Palace in Lop Buri, Siam (Thailand)

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage

Description

Geographical position 
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Solar Eclipse Observatory 1688, Kraison Siharat Palace in Lop Buri, Lopburi Province, Thailand (Siam)

cf. Wat San Paolo Observatory, Tambon Tha Hin, Amphoe Mueang Lop Buri, Chang Wat Lopburi 15000, Thailand

 

Location 
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Latitude 14°48’43’’ N, Longitude 100°38’42’’ E, Elevation 19m above mean sea level.

cf. Palace in Lop Buri: Latitude 14°47’59’’ N, Longitude 100°36’36’’ E, Elevation 19m above mean sea level.
cf. Wat San Paolo Observatory 14°47’44.2’’N, 00°37’09.8’’E

 

IAU observatory code 
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Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
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King Narai the Great (1633--1688), King of Ayuttay

Fig. 1a. King Narai the Great (1633--1688), King of Ayuttaya, reigned from 1656 to 1688 (Wikipedia)

     

Statue of King Narai the Great (1633--1688) in Lop

Fig. 1b. Statue of King Narai the Great (1633--1688) in Lop Buri (Wikipedia)



King Phra Narai the Great (1633--1688) or Ramathibodi III, 4th King of the Prasat Dynasty, 27th monarch of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350--1767), reigned from 1656 to 1688. The capital was Ayuttaya, but in 1664, due to the the Dutch naval blockade, he moved to Lop Buri (French: "Louvo") -- the Kraison Siharat Palace was built in Lop Buri (Latitude 14°48’43’’ N, Longitude 100°38’42’’ E, 19m) with the expertise of Jesuit architects and engineers.

City of Lop Buri - Louvo (Engraving by C. Vermeule

Fig. 1c. City of Lop Buri - Louvo (Engraving by C. Vermeulen, Tachard: Voyage de Siam, 1668)

   

Ambassadeurs of Siam in Paris (Engraving by C. Ver

Fig. 1d. Ambassadeurs of Siam in Paris (Engraving by C. Vermeulen, Tachard: Voyage de Siam, 1668)



Narai’s reign was characterized by commercial and diplomatic activities with the Middle East as well as with the West, especially close diplomatic relations were set up with the court of Louis XIV.
King Narai’s reign "... was the most prosperous during the Ayuthaya period and saw great foreign and commercial and diplomatic activities with foreign nations ...."

King Narai had an instrinsic interest in astronomy and western technology ... [and] helped Siam to grow via exposure to Western culture."
King Narai is regarded as founding father of scientific astronomy in Thailand.


Total Lunar Eclipse (1685), observed in the King

Fig. 2a. Total Lunar Eclipse (1685), observed in the King’s Kraison Siharat Palace in Lop Buri / Louvo (Engraving by C. Vermeulen in Tachard, 1686)



Total Lunar Eclipse (1685)

French Jesuits were sent by the French King to the East Indies in 1685. They arrived in Siam, and observed in Narai’s Kraison Siharat Palace in Lop Buri together with the King a Total Lunar Eclipse on December 11, 1685:
The King expressed a particular satisfaction seeing all the spots on the Moon in the telescope, and especially perceived that the .... Map that was made at the Paris Observatory agreed so well with it. He put several questions to us during the eclipse."
The observations were used to determine the longitude of Lop Buri.

The following Lunar Eclipses were observed in Ayutthaya and in Lop Buri: 22 February 1682, 11 December 1685, 30 November 1686, 16 April 1688.

Total Lunar Eclipse (1685), observed in the King

Fig. 2b. Total Lunar Eclipse (1685), observed in the King’s Kraison Siharat Palace in Lop Buri / Louvo (Engraving by C. Vermeulen in Tachard, 1686)



Observers of the Lunar Eclipse of 30 November 1686 and Instruments

Ayutthaya --
Instruments: Three telescopes with focal length of 2.5, 6 and 12 foot, and a small pendulum clock.

  • Father Jean-François Gerbillon
  • Mr de Lamar (Royal Engineer of Siam)
  • Father Louis de Comte
  • Mr Verét (Director of the French East India Company in Ayutthaya)
  • Father Claude de Visdelou


Lop Buri --
Instruments: Two telescopes, one with focal length of 5 foot, and a small pendulum clock.

  • Father Joachim Bouvet
  • Father Jean de Fontaney
  • Father John Baptist Malbonard
  • Other priests



King Narai the Great, observing with ten Jesuits t

Fig. 3. King Narai the Great, observing with ten Jesuits the Total Solar Eclipse in 1688 in his Palace in Lop Buri; a long telescope with the projection of the Sun is shown (watercolour, Wikipedia, CC4 by Françoise Foliot: Eclipse de soleil au Siam en 1688)

      

Partial Solar Eclipse (April 30, 1688)

King Phra Narai the Great and the French Jesuits observed the Partial Solar Eclipse in 1688 (April 30) in his Palace in Lop Buri:
"This was viewed by the Missionary and Mathematician Jesuits sent by the King to the East Indies in 1687. It was at Louvo in the King’s palace that it was observed in the presence of this prince who was at a window of a large Hall of His Palace seated in an armchair, and the Jesuits with Mr Constance who acted as interpreter for them were seated with their legs crossed on a large Turkish carpet. One saw on both sides a row of prostrate mandarins with their heads bowed down to the ground. On this occasion a fine parallactic machine, which is a kind of clock to which is attached a telescope that follows the Movement of the Sun, was used. There can be seen the mandarin Opra Pitratcha who came to see this machine close to. It is he who seized the Kingdom of Siam and chased out the French." (The eclipse of the sun at Siam in 1688 in the month of April. Quoted after Van der Cruysse 1995, p. 461).



Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri (1685/87) (c

Fig. 4a. Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri (1685/87) (contemporary painting, Wikimedia commons)

   

Ruins of Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri (Wi

Fig. 4b. Ruins of Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri (Wikipedia, Viseua)

Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri (1685/87--1689)

An Observatory in Lop Buri was founded between King Narai’s Palace and his country retreat near the water reservoir, proposed by Constantine Phaulkon in 1685. The result was Wat San Paolo Observatory, completed in 1687, an impressive two-storey rectangular structure with a large internal courtyard, and a four-storey tower Observatory at one end. The design of the Wat San Paolo Observatory was inspired by Paris Observatory, especially the octagonal tower with the platform for using the long telescopes. In addition to the observatory existed an accomodation, a seminary, and a church.

Instruments

  • 2.5-inch-telescope (f=19 ft)
  • ...-inch-telescope (f=12 ft)
  • ...-inch-telescope (f=8 ft)
  • ...-inch-telescope (f=6 ft)
  • 18-inch-quadrant
  • 2 astronomical clocks

Observations

  • Comets (1686)
  • Jovian Satellite phaenomena (1686)
  • Lunar eclipse (10 November 1686)
  • Partial solar eclipse (30 April 1688)
  • Mars conjunctions (January and February 1687)
  • Io occultation by Jupiter (11 & 12 March 1687)
  • Lunar occultation of Jupiter (10 March 1687)
  • Zeta UMa discovered as a double star (1687)
  • Lunar eclipse (15 April 1688)
  • The last Jesuit observations took place in 1689

But the successful period of astronomy ended with the death of King Narai on 11 July 1688. The successor was not interested in astronomy. The commercial and diplomatic contacts were finished. The French Jesuits were forced to leave Siam; they went to China or India.


Re-emergence of Scientific Astronomy in 1868

Two centuries later, in 1868, French astronomers observed a total solar eclipse in Wa Ko under the Royal patronage of King Rama IV -- then in 1875 a British expedition observed a total solar eclipse in 1875 under the Royal patronage of King Rama V.

 

History 
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The first telescope in Siam

Fig. 5. The first telescope in Siam "Ambassades du Roy de Siam envoyé du Prince Maurice" in 1608



Father Antoine Thomas (1644--1709), a Belgian Jesuit missionary, arrived already in Ayutthaya in 1681.

Six Jesuit mathematicians / astronomers were sent out by Louis XIV to the Indies and China.

The Jesuit Guy Tachard (1648--1712) remained in Siam.

In 1687 a second group of Jesuit astronomers was invited --  a total of fourteen Jesuits arrived in Ayutthaya.

For seven short years -- between 1681 and 1688 -- scientific astronomy flourished in Siam. The 1682 and 1685 lunar eclipses and the 1688 solar eclipse were observed.

 

State of preservation 
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Palace Observatory with telescope and clock, Lop B

Fig. 6a. Palace Observatory with telescope and clock, Lop Buri - Louvo (Engraving by C. Vermeulen, Tachard: Voyage de Siam, 1668)

    

Ruins of King Narai country retreat at the water r

Fig. 6b. Ruins of King Narai country retreat at the water reservoir site in Lop Buri (photo: Wayne Orchiston)



Only ruins are left of the observing place, but at the water reservoir is a plaque, stating that there a lunar eclipse of 1685 was observed; in addition, there is an erroneous inclusion of the 1688 solar eclipse.

Ruins of the Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri survived and they are of national scientific importance in Thailand. Lunar eclipses and especially the partial solar eclipse on 30 April 1688 were observed.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
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The design of the Wat San Paolo Observatory was inspired by Paris Observatory, especially the octagonal tower.

 

Threats or potential threats 
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--

 

Present use 
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--

 

Astronomical relevance today 
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The Wat San Paolo Observatory in Lop Buri was a well-equipped French Jesuit observatory in Lop Buri (1686) -- comparable to the Beijing Jesuit Observatory.

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
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Tachard: Voyage de Siam, 1668, with engravings by

Fig. 7. Tachard: Voyage de Siam, 1668, with engravings by C. Vermeulen

  • Bhumadhon, P.: Astronomical Archives from France Concerning the Kingdom of Siam during the Reign of King Narai. Bangkok, Thai Astronomical Society 2000, p. 144 (in Thai).

  • Hutchinson, E.W.: The French Foreign Mission in Siam during the XVIIth century. In: Journal of the Siam Society 26 (1933), p. 1-71.

  • Orchiston, Wayne & Boonrucksar Soonthornthum: French observations of the 18 August 1868 total solar eclipse from Wah-koa, Thailand. In: Nakamura, T. & Wayne Orchiston (eds.): The Emergence of Astrophysics in Asia. Opening a New Window on the Universe. New York: Springer 2016.

  • Orchiston, Wayne; Orchiston, D.L.; George, M. & Boonrucksar Soonthornthum: The first scientific observations of a solar eclipse carried out in Siam. In: Orchiston, Wayne & M. Vahia (eds.):  Exploring the History of Southeast Asian Astronomy: A Review of Present Projects, and Future Prospects and Possibilities. New York: Springer 2016.

  • Orchiston, Wayne; Orchiston, Darunee Lingling; George, Martin; Soonthornthum, Boonrucksar & S. Komonjinda: Seven-teenth century Jesuit astronomical activities in Siam. In: Shi, Y.-L. (ed.): Astronomical Heritages in Asia-Pacific Areas: Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Oriental Astronomy. Hefei: University of Science and Technology of China 2016.

  • Orchiston, Wayne; George, Martin & Boonrucksar Soonthornthum: Exploring the First Scientific Observations of Lunar Eclipses made in Siam. In: Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 19 (2016), 1, p. 25-45.

  • Smith, S.J.: History of Siam in the Reign of Phra Narai 1657--1682. Bangkok: S.J. Smith’s Office 1880.

  • Smithies, Michael: Eclipses in Siam, 1685 and 1688, and their Representation. In: Journal of the Siam Society (JSS) 91 (2003), p. 189-204.

  • Soonthornthum, Boonrucksar; Orchiston, Wayne & Siramas Komonjinda: The French Jesuit Mission to Thailand in the 1680s and the Establishment of a Major Observatory. In: C41/ICHA Science Meetings at the IAU XXVIII General Assembly, Sept. 2012.

  • Tachard, Guy: Voyage de Siam, des Pères Jésuites, envoyez par le roy aux Indes & à la Chine avec leurs observations astronomiques, et leurs remarques de physique, de géographie, d’hydrographie, & d’histoire. Paris: Arnould Seneuze, Daniel Horthemels 1686.

  • Tachard, Guy: A relation of the Voyage to Siam performed by six Jesuits sent by the French King, to the Indies and China in the year 1685. London: Arnould Seneuze, Daniel Horthemels 1688 (reprinted Bangkok: Orchid Press 1981).

  • Udías, Agustin: Searching the Heavens and the Earth: The History of Jesuit Observatories. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic 2013.

  • Van der Cruysse, Dirk: Siam and the West 1500--1700. Translated by M. Smithies. Chiangmai: Silkworm Books 2002.

  • Vermeulen, Cornelis: Engraving by C. Vermeulen in
    Tachard: Voyage de Siam, des Pères Jésuites, 1686.

  • Vollant des Verquains, Jean: Histoire de la Révolution de Siam arrivée en l’année 1688. Lille: J.C. Malte 1691.

  • Tachard, Guy: Voyage de Siam des Pères Jésuites envoyez par le Roy aux Indes et à la Chine. Paris 1686.

 

Links to external sites 
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Links to external on-line pictures 
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