The Stars Above

It was my last weekend in Beijing. There were only a couple of sights left on my list and this was my last opportunity. Unfortunately, the air quality was not in my favor. The AQI had vacillated between “Unhealthy” and “Very Unhealthy” since Friday. One could almost touch the air, it was so thick.

Azimuth Theodolite

On the daily commute, we would pass by the star-gazing equipment at the Ancient Observatory. This was my destination.

According to the brochure, the Beijing Ancient Observatory was built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty.

Sextant

As I walked around the grounds, I felt both sadness and anticipation. I would miss this city.

Sundial - Detail

I would miss its history and its splendor, but most of all I would miss my new colleagues and friends.

During those last two weeks, every time I said good-bye to someone, it was with the knowledge that I might never see them again.

Chinese Moondial

Even though my sadness was tempered with the anticipation of being home with my family and friends, it would be hard leaving.

Armilla Sphere Replica - Dragon Detail (facing right)

My only comfort was that the stars above would somehow guide us back together someday.

Armillary

Zaìjiàn. 在见。

Baskets 4 Life Exhibit

While in Copenhagen, we went to the observation deck of the Rundetaarn. The Round Tower houses one of Europe’s oldest functioning observatories. From the observation deck, we could see the spires of the churches and rooftops of buildings across the city. Rather than stairs, you walk up the winding spiral path to the top. Walking down was much more fun!

Halfway down the tower, there is a large loft space for the museum shop and which serves as a venue for exhibitions. On the day we visited, the loft space was taken over with baskets – large and small baskets woven by hand using many different materials. It was an exhibit of Baskets 4 Life, a collective of ten Danish women who weave the baskets. According to their website, the purpose of the project is to highlight the need for baskets instead of plastic bags and to “break existing norms in relation to the appearance of baskets and the use of materials in making them.” As part of their mission, the group has started producing the baskets in Africa to create a source of employment and income for women. You can read more about the project at Baskets4Life.dk.

Here is a sampling of some of the beautiful baskets on display. My favorite is the crocheted one.

{Click on any image for a full-screen view.}