Beijing Planetarium is located in Xizhimen Wai Avenue in West City District. It contains three main parts: old facility of Beijing Planetarium, new facility of Beijing Planetarium and Beijing Ancient Observatory. With construction area of 7000 square meters, the old facility was first built in 1955 and opened to public in 1957. It makes up of a planetarium, an exhibition hall, a movie and lecture hall and a commonalty observatory. The new facility of Beijing Planetarium which is adjoin to the existing old facility building, began to built in 2001 and was intended to complete in the fourth quarter of 2004 with construction area of 20000 square meters. The new facility is made up of several exciting parts: Digital universal theater, 3D theater, 4D theater, exhibition hall, solar observatory, commonalty observatory and astronomical classroom etc.
The planetarium, with its cupola measuring 23.5 meters in diameter, is the main focus of interest of the entire complex. At regular intervals, 45-minute presentations take the visitor on a trip through the heavens made possible by projectors installed in the center of the hall which faithfully reproduce an image of the starry sky on the inside of the cupola. In the courtyard are two astronomical observatories, one of which is equipped with a huge telescope measuring 13 centimeters in diameter, and visitors can observe moon, planets, nebulae and star clusters, etc., via the telescope. On the west side of the planetarium is the astronomy square with observation apparatuses for visitors.
Covering an area about 10,000 square meters, the Ancient Observatory under the administration of the Beijing Planetarium is a fascinating place to visit. The Ancient Observatory is located in the southwest side of Jianguomen crossroad at Dongcheng District. The Observatory, built in 1442, displays astronomical instruments of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), such as celestial globe, plane sundial, rotary star dial, and so on. The Observatory includes a cluster of buildings such as Ziwei Hall, Sundial Shadow Hall and other auxiliary structures. It consists of a ten-meter high brick Watching Star Platform and some buildings, which are under the platform. Eight huge bronze astronomical instruments are displayed on the platform. Some of them can still be used to do the measurement work now. These eight huge instruments have the Chinese traditional features in their decorations and appearances but reflect the European accomplishments in their scales and structures. All of those equipments indicate the high level of the astronomy in ancient China.