Jeff Dai captured these star trails around the north celestial pole and North Star – Polaris – in a time-exposure image capturing the passage of the time above the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.
What we in the West know as the Forbidden City is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng, literally Purple Forbidden City. Jeff writes:
The Purple Forbidden City, a world heritage site today, served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government, for almost 500 years.
The Purple Forbidden City is a name with significance in ancient Chinese astronomy. Purple refers to the North Star (pictured in the center of the startrails). In ancient China, it was called the Ziwei Star, and in traditional Chinese astrology was the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor. The surrounding celestial region, the Purple Forbidden Enclosure (pictured below) was considered the realm of the Celestial Emperor and his family.
The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart.
Bottom line: A photo shows star trails above the Forbidden City – former residence of the Chinese emperor – in Beijing, China. It’s accompanied by an image showing the Purple Forbidden Enclosure, the celestial counterpart of the Forbidden City.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.