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Parisian Observatory


1.jpgDays of the National Heritage, in France called „Journées du Patrimoine“ were held this year during the weekend of September 15th and 16th and so the sunny hot September weekend motivated hundreds of thousands of people to stand in the long lines in front of the numerous Parisian sights, state institutions, private aristocratic houses, hospitals, hotels, police stations, townhalls... located in old historical buildings.

The selection is endless, and so we focus on the places where you do not have to queue for hours and one of these choices is the Observatory close to the Denfert-Rochereau Square in the southern part of Paris.2.jpg

„Journées du Patrimoine“ are not precious and exceptional only because of the accessibility to places, buildings where usually you cannot get, but they are precious also because the employees, experts, research workers are available to share their knowledge with the public. They explain patiently, professionally their life passion, their work. In the Observatory dozens of employees, research workers and experts are available to answer the questions of the adults, to help students with the topics of their school projects and through games, pictures and interesting stories make the solar system, planets and stars more visible and accessible to children. They explain who was Cassini an3.jpgd what is the difference between astronomic binoculars and telescope, they explain that the sky above Paris is not good for observing the stars because of the reflects of the street lights.

In the Observatory children search for the treasure, with the help of advices and solving the riddle. Little detectives who find the treasure are rewarded by a baloon and a little toy – puzzle with the image of the Observatory.

Some facts from the history of the Parisian Observatory: In 1665 several members of the French Scientific Society asked the king Louis XIV to create the Royal Academy of Science and Astronomic Observatory. And so in 1667 was created the Royal Observatory. The building of the Observatory was designed by Claude Perrault (brother of the famous story teller). The first director of the Observatory was Cassini, and he was succeeded by three other Cassini generations. A curious fact is that the Observatory is the original point of the meridian of France, which goes from Dunkerque to Perpignan. This meridian was a4.jpglso the reference point when the first map of France was created. Today the Observatory employs 800 people, one third of them are research workers and professors.

These are also the days when you can see the views on the Parisian roofs from the places which are not usually open to the public, but many of them have to be reserved in advance because of the security reasons. And so only those who prepared carefully this weekend in advance, get to see the view from the coupole of the Observatory or from the white tower Saint Jacques, the fasade of which was hidden behind scaffoldage for 10 years (till 2008).

„Journées du Patrimoine“ are held always the third September weekend. In spring the Observatory organizes „The night of planets“, when the public can come for an hour visit and observe the planets. Once a month the Observatory is open to public, but it is necessary to make a reservation by phone.

Maria Dopjerova-Danthine, Paristep