Latitude: 48.8364

Longitude: 2.33651

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Paris Observatory

The clickable maps and pictures below show facts about Paris Observatory. The Paris Observatory (in French, Observatoire de Paris or Observatoire de Paris-Meudon) is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and one of the largest astronomical centres in the world. Its historic building is to be found on the Left Bank of the Seine in central Paris, but most of the staff works on a satellite campus in the Meudon suburb of Paris.


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;
  • education (four graduate programs, Ph.D. studies);
  • diffusion of knowledge to the public.

It maintains a solar observatory at Meudon and a radio astronomy observatory at Nançay. It was also the home to the International Time Bureau until its dissolution in 1987.


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Its foundation lies in the ambitions of Jean-Baptiste Colbert to extend France's maritime power and international trade in the 17th century. Louis XIV promoted its construction starting in 1667, being completed in 1671. It thus predates the Royal Greenwich Observatory in England which was founded in 1675. The architect of the Paris Observatory was Claude Perrault whose brother, Charles, was secretary to Colbert and superintendent of public works. Optical instruments were supplied by Giuseppe Campani. The buildings were extended in 1730, 1810, 1834, 1850, and 1951. The last extension incorporates the spectacular Meridian Room designed by Jean Prouvé.

The world's first national almanac, the Connaissance des temps was published by the observatory in 1679, using eclipses in Jupiter's satellites to aid sea-farers in establishing longitude. In 1863, the observatory published the first modern weather maps. In 1882, a 33 cm astrographic lens was constructed, an instrument that catalysed what proved to be the over-ambitious, international Carte du Ciel project.

In November 1913, the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an antenna, exchanged sustained wireless (radio) signals with the United States Naval Observatory to determine the exact difference of longitude between the two institutions.

Meudon 33-inch Great Refractor

The Meudon great refractor (Meudon 33-inch) was a 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 aperture lens for photography. It was one of the largest active telescopes in Europe.


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Close places of interest

Port-Royal Abbey, Paris (0.28 km)

Port-Royal Abbey was an abbey in Paris that was a stronghold of Jansenism. It was first built in 1626 to relieve pressure of numbers on the mother house at Port-Royal-des-Champs. Famous people who stayed here include Marie de Rohan, intriguer during the Fronde; Jeanne Baptiste d'Albert de Luynes, future mistress of a duke of Savoy; Marie Angélique de Fontanges, mistress of Louis XIV, died here giving birth to his child who also died.

Hôpital Cochin (0.28 km)

The Hôpital Cochin is a famous hospital of public assistance in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Jacques Paris 14e. It houses the central burn treatment centre of the city. The Hôpital Cochin is a section of the Faculté de Médecine Paris-Descartes. It commemorates Jean-Denis Cochin, curé of the parish of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas and founder of a hospital for the workers and poor of that quarter of Paris. Since 1990, a biomedical research centre, the Institut Cochin, has been associated with the hospital.

Gare de Port-Royal (0.29 km)

Port-Royal is a railway station on the RER B in Paris, France. It is situated on the border of 5th and 6th arrondissement of Paris, and named after the convent of Port-Royal.

Paris meridian (0.35 km)

The Paris meridian is a meridian line running through the Paris Observatory in Paris, France—now longitude 2°20′14.03″ east. It was a long-standing rival to the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world, as was the Antwerp meridian in Antwerp, Belgium. Origin In the year 1634, France ruled by Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu decided that the Ferro meridian should be used as the reference on maps, since this island is the most western position of the Old World. It was also thought to be exactly 20 degrees west of Paris.

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