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.
- research in astronomy and astrophysics;
- education (four graduate programs, Ph.D. studies);
- diffusion of knowledge to the public.
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More information about Paris Observatory
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.