Paris Observatory

Monday, 1 November 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, House of the Month, Paris / Île-de-France, Universities, Colleges, Academies
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© flickr.com - Fred Romero/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Fred Romero/cc-by-2.0

The Paris Observatory (French: Observatoire de Paris), a research institution of the Paris Sciences et Lettres University, is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and one of the largest astronomical centers in the world. Its historic building is on the Left Bank of the Seine in central Paris, but most of the staff work on a satellite campus in Meudon, a suburb southwest of Paris. The Paris Observatory was founded in 1667. Construction was completed by the early 1670s and coincided with a major push for increased science, and the founding of the Royal Academy of Sciences. King Louis XIV’s minister of finance organized a “scientific powerhouse” to increase understanding of astronomy, maritime navigation, and science in general. Through the centuries the Paris Observatory has continued in support of astronomical activities, and in the 21st century connects multiple sites and organizations, supporting astronomy and science, past and present.

The Paris Observatory was proposed in 1665-1666 by the French Academy of Sciences, which had recently been founded by the Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert. In 1666, King Louis XIV authorized the building of the Observatory. On Midsummer’s Day 1667, members of the Academy of Sciences traced the future building’s outline on a plot outside town near the Port Royal abbey, with the Paris meridian exactly bisecting the site north–south. The meridian line was used as a basis for navigation and would be used by French cartographers as their prime meridian for more than 200 years. The Paris Observatory predates by a few years the Royal Observatory Greenwich in England, which was founded in 1675. The English philosopher John Locke visited the observatory on 28 August 1677, which he recorded in his journal: “At the Observatory we saw the Moon in a twenty-two foot glass, and Jupiter, with his satellites, in the same. The most remote was on the east, and the other three on the west. We also saw Saturn and his ring, in a twelve-foot glass, and one of his satellites. Monsieur Cassini told me, that the declination of the needle at Paris is about two and a half degrees to the west.” The architect of the Paris Observatory was Claude Perrault whose brother, Charles, was secretary to Jean-Baptiste Colbert and superintendent of public works. Optical instruments were supplied by Giuseppe Campani. Construction of the Observatory was completed in 1671, though the buildings were extended in 1730, 1810, 1834, 1850, and 1951. The last extension incorporates the Meridian Room designed by Jean Prouvé.

The great refractor of Meudon © Franck devedjian/cc-by-sa-4.0 Paris Observatory garden © LPLT/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Claude Perrault © flickr.com - Fred Romero/cc-by-2.0 © Ordifana75/cc-by-sa-3.0 Paris Meridian © FredA/cc-by-sa-3.0
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The great refractor of Meudon © Franck devedjian/cc-by-sa-4.0
The Paris Observatory library preserves a great number of original works and letters of the Observatory and well known astronomers. The entire collection has been inventoried in an online archive called AlidadeAccès en Ligne aux Instruments, Documents et Archives De l’astronomiE (Online Access to Instruments, Documents and Archives of Astronomy). Some of the work is now digitized on the digital library such as those of Johannes Hevelius, Jérôme Lalande and Joseph-Nicolas Delisle.

The title of Director of the Observatory was officially given for the first time to César-François Cassini de Thury by a Royal brevet dated November 12, 1771. However, the important role played by his grandfather and father in this institution during its first century actually gave them somewhat the role of Director. The observatory did not have a recognised Director until 1771, before that each member could do as they pleased. Sometimes Giovanni Cassini (1671–1712) and Jacques Cassini (1712–1756) are listed as “Directors” retrospectively. The same goes for Francois Arago, who also was not actually a Director although he did have a de facto position of leadership and is often credited as such.

Read more on Paris Observatory and Wikipedia Paris Observatory. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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