In 1972 the Yunnan Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was formally established with the approval of the National Planning Committee of China. In 2001 the National Astronomical Observatories was formed, with Yunnan Observatory, Beijing Observatory, Urumqi Observatory, Changchun Observatory and Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology. Yunnan Astronomical Observatory now consists of three observing stations: the Phoenix Hill site, Lijiang station and Fuxian-Lake solar observing station. The observatory currently has about 180 members, including research scientists, post-doctoral fellows, engineers, and technical and administrative staff.
Yunnan Astronomical Observatory is a ground based observatory for practical astrophysics in southern China. The main research areas include active galactic nuclei, stellar evolution, variable and binary systems, physics of solar active regions, astrometry, and the application of new technologies and methods in astronomy. Yunnan Observatory is also a co-organizer of the Joint Laboratory for Optical Astronomy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in cooperation with other astronomical institutes in China
Since 2000 Yunnan Observatory has won 8 first class and 7 second class Science and Technology Awards from the State, Yunnan Province and relevant ministries. In 2007, academician Huang Runquan was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution Prize of Science and Technology in Yunnan Province” . 510 SCI research papers were published in Yunnan observatory from 1999 to 2008.
Yunnan Observatory has widespread cooperation with famous astronomical institutes around the world, such as Cambridge University and Oxford University in England, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in America, the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, etc. This cooperation includes astronomical observations, theoretical research, development of telescope and terminal instrumentation, and the application of new technologies and methods in astronomy.