The Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) evolved from the former Institute of Astronomy, which was established in 1928 as one of the first eight institutes of the Academia Sinica. In 1934, the institute completed the construction of the observatory at Purple Mountain in Nanjing and the Institute of Astronomy changed its name to PMO in 1950. PMO is known as the “Cradle of Modern Astronomy in China” not only because it was China's first modern astronomical institute, but also because it was the originator of most subdisciplines of Chinese astronomy and the sponsor of subsequent CAS astronomical institutions.
Now PMO has 324 regular employees, including 266 professional personnel. The research focuses on high-energy astrophysics, solar physics and space astronomy exploration technology; star formation through the universe and corresponding terahertz technology; artificial satellite orbital dynamics and probe methods; planetary science, ephemeral astronomy and deep space exploration; and observational cosmology and galaxy formation.