COSPAR Scientific Assembly (Committee on Space Research)

Mayor Liu Qi’s Welcome Letter

I am very pleased to express my welcome, on behalf of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, to the Chinese National Committee for COSPAR to hold the 36th COSPAR Scientific Assembly 2006 in Beijing.
Beijing, a world famous capital city with ancient history and cultural heritage, a city with a history for over 3000 years and serving a capital city for more than 800 years. It’s rich cultural heritage includes the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and some other world renowned historic sites and relics. Nowadays, her inhabitants include all the 56 nationalities from over the country and tens of thousands of experts, employees and students from many countries of the world. She is alive and precious sample of multicultural of human kind.
Beijing is also a metropolis developing at a impressive speed. In the past decade, she economic growth has always maintained a two-digit increase and the comprehensive capacity is increasingly stronger, the facilities of the city keeps improving, characterized by her top-level transportation, telecommunication, hotels, conference and exhibition and other social service facilities. There are 70 universities and colleges of higher learning in the area of Beijing and over 100 national scientific exhibition centers, libraries, concert halls, galleries, cinemas and other cultural facilities. Beijing Municipal Government has always maintained a close relationship with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Association for Science and Technology, all the universities and many other institutions. Thanks to the strong ties, in the past 10 years we have joint hands successfully in organizing many large international conferences in Beijing.
As the Chinese saying goes: Seeing is Believing. Please come to visit Beijing. You are welcome by myself and the citizens of Beijing.
Welcome to Beijing.
Yours sincerely,

Liu Qi
Major of Beijing

Beijing, Weather or Clothing

Beijing is a world famous capital city with ancient history and cultural heritage, a city with a history for over 3000 years and serving a capital city for more than 800 year. It is rich cultural heritage includes the Forbidden City, The Great Wall and some other world-renowned historic sites

Beijing’s climate is defined as “continental monsoon.” The four seasons are distinctly recognizable. Spring and autumn is the best time to be in Beijing, particularly in the months of April, May, September and October. Autumn is considered to be the best time to visit Beijing as the skies are clear and the weather is very comfortable. The four seasons are very clear in Beijing with a temperate spring, rainy summer, clear autumn, and a cold, snowy winter. The average temperature throughout the year is 11.80. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of -4.60 and the hottest month is July at an average temperature of 26.10. Unfortunately, spring and autumn are shorter than summer and winter. Although winter is technically longer, that should not keep you from traveling to Beijing as indoor heating is widely available. Nevertheless, as the indoor/outdoor temperature difference is rather large, travelers should be prepared with warm clothing and a thick coat is recommended for the colder months of the year. In winter, off-season discounts are to be had as well.
Bilingual weather information can be obtained by dialing 121 when in Beijing.
The average precipitation in a year is 644 mm. The frost-free period is 180-days.

Temperature (Celsius)
Rainfall (cm)
Days of rainfall

Congress venue

The 36th COSPAR Scientific Assembly will take place from 16 July to 23 July 2006.
Opening Ceremony: People’s Congress Hall
Congress Venue: China World Hotel (24), Traders Hotel (14), Beijing, China


Lijuan En
       Address: No. 1, Nanertiao, Zhongguancun, Beijing, 100080, China
       Tel: 0086-10-62653261
       Fax: 0086-10-62653261

Observing the Moon

Our nearest neighbor is often the first step for the novice observer. It is a star that has always impressed men by its diameter, its luminosity or its changing aspect. Hence the share of myths and legends related to the Moon ( In 1609, Galileo aimed his newly constructed telescope at the Moon, and there he discovered a multitude of craters, mountains, valleys and plains, and not a smooth sphere. Today, with a simple pair of binoculars, you can redo this discovery and it will promise you exciting nights of exploration.

The moon with the naked eye

To the naked eye, the Moon is larger than any planet in the Solar System seen through a telescope. It is therefore possible to detect many details. The most obvious are seas of solidified basalt, which appear as dark spots. A summary map of the Moon is enough to identify them. A few large craters can also be located.

For example, Copernicus or Tycho. They are not the largest, but they are surrounded by white rays making them easily recognizable. The main difficulty for these observations lies in the glare that the celestial body can cause. It is therefore better to observe during twilight, when the contrasts are neither too dimmed (by day) nor too marked (by night).

Prefer the phases between the First and the Last Quarter because these reveal a maximum of surface of the observable face.


Any type of binocular is suitable for discovering the lunar surface, even those with a small aperture, such as 30 mm (1).

No matter how much light they collect, our satellite being bright, the image will always be comfortable to watch. Dozens of craters are recognizable.

The larger the binoculars, the more detail they show.

Just be aware that beyond 12×, it becomes necessary to stabilize them, on a tripod for example, to prevent the image from constantly dancing.

(1) Binoculars (e.g.: 7×50) are defined by their magnification (7×) and their aperture (50 mm).

What to observe?

The visible side

The rotation of the Moon is synchronous with its revolution, and therefore we always observe the same side. With the naked eye, dark and light areas are easily observed which correspond to seas and mountains. Six great seas are observable: the Ocean of Storms, the Sea of ​​Rains, the Seas of Serenity, Tranquility, Fertility and Crises. To the south you can see the large Tycho crater with large white streaks radiating around it. The entire southern and southeastern part is covered with mountains and bright craters.


The Moon is riddled with a myriad of craters of all sizes, the smallest having a diameter of the order of a millimeter while the largest are some 300 km in diameter. On the visible side there are 234 craters exceeding 100 km and 300,000 exceeding one kilometer. The far side is much more cratered: around 430,000 craters are over a kilometer long.

These craters were formed by the impact of meteorites on the surface. The depth, the existence of a peak or the diameter depend on the nature of the meteorite (metallic, glacial, etc.) and the ground at the place of impact, but also on the speed of the object and the its impact. Some craters like Clavius ​​have a depth exceeding 4000 m for a diameter of a hundred km. This gives a fairly gentle relief, with slopes not exceeding 35°. This is why they are difficult to observe during the Full Moon, the shadows then being non-existent.

The planet Moon having very little internal activity, volcanoes are extremely rare and their activity zero. However, some glowing areas have been observed, perhaps due to volcanic activity, but a meteorite impact could also explain them.

The seas

When we observe the Moon with the naked eye, we can see light spots and dark ones. These are the seas. These are not oceans covered with water but wide plains, the result of basaltic outpourings 3.5 billion years ago. These seas are not perfectly smooth, but present reliefs caused by landslides and by the fall of meteorites digging craters. The seas occupy 31.2% of the visible face and only 2.6% of the hidden face.


It is at the edge of the seas that we find the few rare mountains and valleys on the Moon. No valley could be dug by the erosion of water because it is non-existent in liquid form (there could remain ice at the bottom of the crevasses or deep craters perpetually in the shade). The mountains are currently thought to be the remnants of very ancient craters eroded by meteorite impacts throughout history. On the hidden side, there are peaks over 11,000 m above sea level.


When we observe a fine crescent Moon, we notice a slight luminosity on the night side, it is the ashen light. In this arrangement, we observe from the Moon a practically full Earth reflecting the sunlight. The lunar night is then lit by the Earth, it is this light that we observe from the Earth.

Observing the Moon with ease

This is the easiest thing to observe in the sky: the Moon is an infinite field of exploration! Here are some ideas for making your first discoveries there… Before going much further, who knows?

Located at an average distance of 384,400 kilometers, the Moon is the only natural satellite of our planet Earth. With its 3,470 kilometers in diameter and because it is very close to us compared to other stars in the sky, the Moon offers many things to see for the curious: changing shape, surface details, aesthetic comparisons with other stars… but also some surprises that make the imagination work!

Crescent, quarter, full moon…

If we can see the Moon so well, we must thank the Sun: it is in fact what illuminates it and makes it visible to our eyes. You will no doubt have noticed that over time, the Moon changes shape: sometimes at the end of a crescent, then in a quarter, or even more, completely round or even invisible! Why these changes? Quite simply because our satellite orbits the Earth in about 28 days and from the point where we observe it, the part illuminated by the Sun is not always the same.

The other consequence of this revolution in 28 days is that the Moon is not always visible at the same time (as the case may be, afternoon, evening, night, morning, etc.) and in the same place. in the sky. Take the test: observe the Moon several days in a row at the same time. You will see that it shifts from day to day towards the east: a movement which means that it rises on average every day 50 minutes later than the day before.

It is easy to recognize the full moon: our satellite is then very round in the sky. But how do you know if the Moon is in first quarter or last quarter? Easy: if you add a bar on its lit/unlit limit, can you form the letter “p” or the letter “d” (in yellow, diagram below)? If it is a “p”, then you are observing the first quarter, visible in the afternoon and evening. If it’s a “d”, it’s the last quarter, visible at the end of the night and in the morning. Childish, no? However, this trick is only valid for observations from the northern hemisphere of the Earth.

We also talk about waxing and waning Moon… Kezako? It is increasing when its illuminated part is larger and larger day by day, and decreasing when its illuminated part is reduced day by day. In other words, it is increasing between the new moon and the full moon (passing through the first quarter) and decreasing between the full moon and the new moon (passing through the last quarter).

Face up and face down

As we have just seen, the Moon revolves around the Earth in approximately 28 days: more exactly, 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes. But what’s funny is that it also spins around in exactly the same time! The consequence of these two movements which have the same duration, is that when we look at it from the Earth, the Moon always presents us with the same face … Well, it’s true that there are a few small variations (we call that libration, a kind of oscillation of the Moon on its axis) which sometimes make it possible to see one or the other a little better. other edges: finally, we can see about 60% of its surface. But for the rest, no need to hope to see anything from Earth! You will have to pay for an expensive and still utopian trip around the Moon…

Between light gray and dark gray

Nevertheless, on these 60% of surface which are accessible to us, there is already something to discover. We see that there are dark areas and light areas, all in shades of gray. The best way to get interested is to wait for the full moon, when the entire visible side is lit by the Sun and there is a maximum of things to see.

The dark areas correspond to the seas and oceans : a misleading name because there is not a drop of water in these places! In fact, these are large areas that have been covered with outpourings of volcanic lava, especially during the impact of large meteorites. This very iron-rich lava reflects less sunlight than other lunar rocks and these large flat expanses appear darker to us.

The high plateaus, full of mountains, faults and small craters develop a whole palette of intermediate grays . Finally, some craters display a color close to white: the largest and most remarkable are Copernicus and Tycho, which are also surrounded by brilliant ejecta, large clear streaks that can cross a large part of the lunar surface.

When the Moon is at the end of its crescent, it is time to admire another shade of grey: that of the earthshine , which is observed on the part not directly illuminated by the Sun. But if there is no light, why do we see anything? Quite simply because this shaded surface is still slightly lit by the Earth, which reflects some of the sunlight it receives. This glow remains faint, but sufficient to easily discern the lunar outline in the night

Watch for celestial rapprochements

Another way to admire the Moon with the naked eye is to watch for the moments when it approaches other bright stars and in particular the planets . Seeing a close rapprochement between the Moon and Jupiter, Venus or Mars is often very pleasant! For the show to be really interesting, however, one or more of the following criteria must be met:

that the Moon is in crescent or in quarter so that its brightness is not too important (if the earthshine is visible, it is even better);
that the rapprochement between the two stars is as tight as possible;
that the event takes place not too high on the horizon, so that the aesthetics of the foreground brings the final touch.
Luckily, this kind of closeness is quite regular because the Moon circulates on a trajectory in the sky which is quite close to that of the planets. Moreover, as it completes a revolution around the Earth in 28 days, rapprochements with the same planet can happen again for several months in a row!

The Moon also approaches bright stars, but these are generally less bright than the main planets mentioned above. Also, these meetings are more rare and a little less surprising. However, in winter or spring, the proximity of our satellite to some large stellar clusters can arouse interest, especially with binoculars: the observation of a crescent Moon near the Hyades, Pleiades or even the Crib is particularly attractive.

We sometimes hear about a supermoon , what is it?

The term supermoon was coined in 1979 by an American astrologer. It circulates a lot but it does not correspond to a particularly impressive phenomenon since it simply designates a full moon slightly larger than usual. The phenomenon is due to the variations in distance between the Earth and the Moon: compared to its average value (384,400 km), it can vary by approximately 6% more or less. The apparent diameter of the Moon changes in the same proportions. About three times a year, this diameter approaches its maximum precisely at the time of the full moon; but, honestly, it is not easy to see the difference! The fact remains that the full moon always has a rather impressive side, especially when it rises when it always seems very big.