Onward and Skyward

With new efforts aimed at the stars, China seeks to revive its astronomical reputation

By Nadia Drake, 11:31 AM November 15, 2012

High in Beijing’s sky, the August sun glows red by midafternoon, a star struggling to illuminate China’s crowded capital from above the dust and pollution.

I’m in the city along with 3,200 astronomers for the International Astronomical Union’s two-week General Assembly meeting. It’s the first time the IAU has convened the assembly in China, an important milestone for a country attempting to reclaim its former astronomical significance.

Tradition and modernity squeeze together here, like the car...

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