Paris Observatory
The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 observatory of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and one of the largest astronomical centres in the world. Its historic main building is to be found on the Left Bank of the Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 in central Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...



Administratively, it is a grand établissement of the French Ministry of National Education, with a status close to that of a public university. Its missions include:
  • research in astronomy and astrophysics
    Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

  • education (four graduate programs, Ph.D.
    Doctor of Philosophy
    Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

  • diffusion of knowledge to the public.

It maintains a solar observatory at Meudon (48°48′18.32"N 2°13′51.61"E) and a radio astronomy observatory at Nançay
Nançay Radio Telescope
The Nançay Decimetric Radio Telescope is located in the small commune of Nançay, two hours' drive south of Paris, France. The radio telescope saw first light in 1965, after an inauguration by the then French president, Charles de Gaulle. It is one of the largest radio telescopes in the world...

It was also the home to the International Time Bureau
International Time Bureau
The Bureau International de l'Heure or the International Time Bureau, seated at the Paris Observatory, was the international bureau responsible for combining different measurements of Universal Time. The bureau also played an important role in the research of time keeping...

 until its dissolution in 1987.


Its foundation lies in the ambitions of Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

 to extend France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

's maritime power and international trade in the 17th century. Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 promoted its construction starting in 1667, and it being completed in 1671. It thus predates the Royal Greenwich Observatory in England which was founded in 1675. The architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 of the Paris Observatory was Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault is best known as the architect of the eastern range of the Louvre Palace in Paris , but he also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.Perrault was born and died in Paris...

 whose brother, Charles
Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault was a French author who laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from pre-existing folk tales. The best known include Le Petit Chaperon rouge , Cendrillon , Le Chat Botté and La Barbe bleue...

, was secretary to Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

 and superintendent of public works. Optical instruments were supplied by Giuseppe Campani
Giuseppe Campani
Giuseppe Campani was an Italian optician and astronomer who lived in Rome during the latter half of the 17th century.His brother, Matteo Campani-Alimenis, and he were experts in grinding and polishing lenses, especially for very long focal length aerial telescope objectives...

. The buildings were extended in 1730, 1810, 1834, 1850, and 1951. The last extension incorporates the spectacular Meridian Room designed by Jean Prouvé
Jean Prouvé
-Images:**- External links :***...


The world's first national almanac, the Connaissance des temps
Connaissance des Temps
The Connaissance des temps is an official astronomical yearly publication in France.- History :Connaissance des temps is the oldest such publication in the world, published without interruption since 1679 , after the astronomer Jean Picard obtained from the King the right to create the journal...

was published by the observatory in 1679, using eclipses in Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

's satellites to aid sea-fairers in establishing longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

. In 1863, the observatory published the first modern weather map
Weather map
A weather map displays various meteorological features across a particular area at a particular point in time. Such maps have been in use since the mid-19th century and are used for research and weather forecasting purposes. Maps using isotherms show temperature gradients, which can help locate...

s. In 1882, a 33 cm astrograph
An astrograph is a telescope designed for the sole purpose of astrophotography. Astrographs are usually used in wide field surveys of the night sky as well as detection of objects such as asteroids, meteors, and comets.-Design:...

ic lens
Lens (optics)
A lens is an optical device with perfect or approximate axial symmetry which transmits and refracts light, converging or diverging the beam. A simple lens consists of a single optical element...

 was constructed, an instrument that catalysed what proved to be the over-ambitious, international Carte du Ciel
Carte du Ciel
The Carte du Ciel and the Astrographic Catalogue were two distinct but connected components of a massive international astronomical project, initiated in the late 19th century, to catalogue and map the positions of millions of stars as faint as 11th or 12th magnitude...


In November 1913, the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

 as an antenna
Antenna (radio)
An antenna is an electrical device which converts electric currents into radio waves, and vice versa. It is usually used with a radio transmitter or radio receiver...

, exchanged sustained wireless (radio) signals with the United States Naval Observatory
United States Naval Observatory
The United States Naval Observatory is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States, with a primary mission to produce Positioning, Navigation, and Timing for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense...

 to determine the exact difference of longitude between the two institutions.

Meudon 33-inch Great Refractor

The Meudon great refractor
Great refractor
Great refractor refers to a large telescope with a lens, usually the largest refractor at an observatory with an equatorial mount. The preeminence and success of this style in observational astronomy was an era in telescope use in the 19th and early 20th century. Great refractors were large...

 (Meudon 33-inch) was a 83 cm (32.6 inch) aperture refractor, which with September 20, 1909 observations by E.M. Antoniadi helped disprove the Mars canals theory. It was a double telescope completed in 1891, with secondary having 62 cm aperture lens for photography. It was one of the largest active telescopes in Europe. (see also List of largest optical refracting telescopes, and Paris Inch
Paris inch
The Paris inch, or pouce, is an old unit of measure, that among other uses, was common for giving the measurement of lenses. The Paris inch could be subdivided into 12 ligne , and 12 Paris inches made a Paris foot. The Paris inch and Paris foot could be abbreviated with " and ' like some other...



  • Giovanni Cassini
    Giovanni Domenico Cassini
    This article is about the Italian-born astronomer. For his French-born great-grandson, see Jean-Dominique Cassini.Giovanni Domenico Cassini was an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer...

  • Jacques Cassini
    Jacques Cassini
    Jacques Cassini was a French astronomer, son of the famous Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini.Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory. Admitted at the age of seventeen to membership of the French Academy of Sciences, he was elected in 1696 a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and...

  • César-François Cassini de Thury
    César-François Cassini de Thury
    César-François Cassini de Thury , also called Cassini III or Cassini de Thury, was a French astronomer and cartographer.- Biography :...

  • Dominique, comte de Cassini
    Dominique, comte de Cassini
    This article is about the French astronomer. For his Italian-born great-grandfather, see Giovanni Domenico Cassini.Jean-Dominique, comte de Cassini was a French astronomer, son of César-François Cassini de Thury....

  • Joseph Jérôme Lefrançais de Lalande (1795–1800)
  • Pierre Méchain
    Pierre Méchain
    Pierre François André Méchain was a French astronomer and surveyor who, with Charles Messier, was a major contributor to the early study of deep sky objects and comets.-Life:...

  • Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1804–1822)
  • Alexis Bouvard
    Alexis Bouvard
    Alexis Bouvard was a French astronomer. He is particularly noted for his careful observations of the irregularities in the motion of Uranus and his hypothesis of the existence of an eighth planet in the solar system.-Life:...

  • François Arago
    François Arago
    François Jean Dominique Arago , known simply as François Arago , was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician.-Early life and work:...

  • Urbain Le Verrier (1854–1870)
  • Charles-Eugène Delaunay
    Charles-Eugène Delaunay
    Charles-Eugène Delaunay was a French astronomer and mathematician. His lunar motion studies were important in advancing both the theory of planetary motion and mathematics.-Life:...

  • Urbain Le Verrier (1873–1877)
  • Amédée Mouchez
    Amédée Mouchez
    Amédée Ernest Barthélemy Mouchez was a French naval officer who became director of the Paris Observatory and launched the ill-fated Carte du Ciel project in 1887.-Life:...


  • Félix Tisserand
    Félix Tisserand
    François Félix Tisserand was a French astronomer.Tisserand was born at Nuits-Saint-Georges, Côte-d'Or. In 1863 he entered the École Normale Supérieure, and on leaving he went for a month as professor at the lycée at Metz. Urbain Le Verrier offered him a post in the Paris Observatory, which he...

  • Maurice Loewy
    Maurice Loewy
    Maurice Loewy was a French astronomer.Born in Mariánské Lázne, in what is now the Czech Republic, Loewy's Jewish parents moved to Vienna in 1841 to escape the antisemitism of their home town. Loewy became an assistant at the Vienna Observatory, working on celestial mechanics...

  • Benjamin Baillaud
    Benjamin Baillaud
    Édouard Benjamin Baillaud was a French astronomer.-Biography:Born in Chalon-sur-Saône, Baillaud studied at the École Normale Supérieure and the University of Paris. He worked as an assistant at the Paris Observatory beginning in 1872...

  • Henri-Alexandre Deslandres
    Henri-Alexandre Deslandres
    Henri Alexandre Deslandres was a French astronomer, director of the Meudon and Paris Observatories.Deslandres' undergraduate years at the École Polytechnique were played out against the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the chaos of the Paris Commune so, on graduation in 1874, he responded...

  • Ernest Esclangon
    Ernest Esclangon
    Ernest Benjamin Esclangon was a French astronomer and mathematician.Born in Mison, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in 1895 he started to study mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure, graduating in 1898...

  • André Danjon
    André Danjon
    André-Louis Danjon was a French astronomer born in Caen.Danjon devised a method to measure "Earthshine" on the Moon using a telescope in which a prism split the Moon's image into two identical side-by-side images...

  • Jean-François Denisse (1963–1967)
  • Jean Delhaye (1967–1971)
  • Raymond Michard (1971–1976)
  • Jacques Boulon (1976–1981)
  • Pierre Charvin (1981–1991)
  • Michel Combes (1991–1999)
  • Pierre Couturier (1999–2003)
  • Daniel Egret (2003-2011)
  • Claude Catala (2011-)


  • Solar Observatory Tower Meudon
    Solar Observatory Tower Meudon
    Solar Observatory Tower Meudon is a 36.47 metre tall tower built of reinforced concrete on the area of Meudon Observatory in Meudon, France, which has in its interior a spectrograph for examination of the sun. Solar Observatory Tower Meudon was built in 1964-65, and is a solar tower, a type of...

  • Chateau de Meudon
    Château de Meudon
    The former Château de Meudon, on a hill in Meudon, about 4 kilometres south-west of Paris, occupied the terraced steeply sloping site. It was acquired by Louis XIV, who greatly expanded its as a residence for Louis, le Grand Dauphin...

  • LESIA space and astrophysics instrumentation research laboratory


Also known as the Observatoire du Pic de Château Renard, the Observatoire de Saint-Véran was built in 1974 on top of the Pic de Château Renard (2900 m), on the commune of Saint-Véran
Saint-Véran is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France in the Queyras Regional Natural Park.-Geography:Saint-Véran, located in the French Alps is the most elevated commune of the French Republic...

 in the Haut Queyras (Hautes Alpes département). A coronograph was in operation there for ten years; the dome was moved there from the Perrault building of the Observatoire de Paris.

Nowadays, the AstroQueyras amateur astronomy association operates the facility, using a 60 cm telescope on loan from the Observatoire de Haute Provence. Numerous asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

s have been discovered there.

External links

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