The School of Astronomy and Space Science at Nanjing University was established in March 2011, and its predecessor, the Department of Astronomy, was founded in 1952. It earns the longest history and a high reputation among the astronomy departments in China. Current research activities mainly cover high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, galaxy evolution, extra-solar planets, astronautic dynamics, astrometry and space science. The School owns Near-Infrared Solar Eruption Tracer (ONSET) and Time Domain Observatory (TiDO), and has contracts with world-class institutions including IRAM, SAO, the Astrophysical Research Consortium, for the access to the NOEMA Interferometer, SMA and SDSS-V respectively. The faculty members also involved in developing instrumentation such as Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory, Lobster-eye X-ray Observatory, Chinese Hα Solar Explorer, Zitong Space-based Telescope, etc. The School offers an exceptional research environment and is now staffed with 42 faculty and 10 full-time scientific researchers, as well as 7 postdoctoral fellows.
The discipline of astronomy and space science at Nanjing University has been selected into the National “Double first class” Initiative. Taking such achievement as a starting point, the School will strive towards much more significant breakthroughs in the research of high energy, solar physics, exoplanets, extragalactic star formation, etc. Simultaneously, will focus on the development of time domain astronomy, radio astrophysics, galaxy formation and evolution.
In order to establish close collaboration between universities and observatories, in December 2012, Nanjing University, Peking University, the University of Science & Technology of China, National Astronomical Observatories, and Purple Mountain Observatory co-founded the “Collaborative Innovation Center of Modern Astronomy and Space Exploration”. Regular seminars, group meetings and lunch talks enrich the exchange of ideas that is vital to kindling the sparks of pondering and to perfect scientific inquiry. Additionally, the school has led to finish a number of the strategic reports that guide the future development of Chinese Astronomy. It also serves as an active member in the scientific researches with national astronomical facilities such as LAMOST, FAST and the South Pole Observatory. Furthermore, the school explores the channels of cooperation with overseas partners to push forward the process of internationalization and has established steady cooperative relationship with over 20 top-level institutes in USA., UK, Australia, Japan, etc. Fruitful academic accomplishments and awards have been obtained owe to those vigorous exchanges with both domestic and outside world.
In 1952, Department of Astronomy, Nanjing University, was established, integrating the Department of Astronomy of Sun Yat-sen University and the Astronomy & Arithmetic Department of Qilu University. The director was Prof. Zhao Que-Min.
In 1955, the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Mathematics, Nanjing University were merged into the new Department of Mathematics & Astronomy.
In 1962, Department of Astronomy was recovered and headed by Dai Wen-Sai.
From 1972 to 1976, 183 students were enrolled. In 1977 the National College Entrance Examination was resumed and the Department began to recruit graduate students since 1978 while doctoral students since 1987.
In 1993, the Department of Astronomy had been approved as “National Training Bases of Astronomy Talents”, funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China.
In March 2011, the School of Astronomy and Space Science was established.