The Paris Observatory

The Observatory is just a few steps away from the Aiglon Hotel in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, right next to Place Denfert-Rochereau.

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l'observatoire

Opened in 1667, the Paris Observatory is the country’s biggest research centre for astronomy and the oldest working observatory in the world.

 

A gateway to space 

Founded because of Louis XIV’s wish to have reliable navigation maps, the Paris Observatory has played a primordial role in Western astronomy since 1667. The four sides of the building precisely correspond to the four points of the compass. A witness to some of the major events in French history since the reign of the Sun King, the Paris Observatory’s working methods have changed over time. Today it is the country’s biggest research centre for astronomy, with five laboratories and an institute, and the workplace of 30 % of French astronomers, who carry out research and examine every known detail of the universe. Open to visitors, it provides a journey into space-time and retraces the history of sciences down the ages.

 

Here visitors can learn more about the knowledge mankind has acquired, but also about the discoveries that are still to be made. Only a 10-minute walk from the Aiglon Hotel, the Paris Observatory can be recognised by the splendid Arago dome. Built between 1846 and 1954, it houses an Equatorial telescope made by Brünner, offering a breathtaking view of the capital. Visiting this legendary site is a chance to contemplate the skies and astronomical measuring instruments.

The Paris Observatory’s missions

The Paris Observatory has three main tasks:

  • Research: The research work managed by the Paris Observatory focus on contemporary astronomy and astrophysics, and concerns, in particular, the study of the Sun and its relations with the Earth, the planets, planetary systems and the measurement of space and time. The Observatory contributes knowledge to major projects for observing the universe.
  • Teaching: The Training and Teaching Unit at the Paris Observatory provides a range of Doctoral and Master’s courses in Astronomy and Astrophysics, some of which are unique in France.
  • Spreading knowledge: With the aim of sharing knowledge, the Paris Observatory organises open days during major astronomic events, exhibitions and educational visits, sets up travelling exhibitions, and produces educational products. This major institution is under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

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