“L’Observatoire de Paris avec ses nouveaux agrandissements”

Paul Fouché, F. Simon sc.
L’astronomie: revue d’astronomie populaire, de météorologie et de physique du globe, publiée par Camille Flammarion, A.1, 1882
fig. 2
121 x 99 mm
Library of INAF - Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory, Naples

In the middle of the nineteenth century the Papal State needed a general improvement of its lighthouses network, so it tasked Secchi to travel to England, crossing France, to acquire the most advanced technologies and knowledge in the field. This proved to be the ideal opportunity for the Jesuit astronomer to get in touch with the most exciting scientific and astronomical milieu of Europe at that time.
Embarked at Civitavecchia, Secchi arrived in Marseilles on August 25, 1858. Here he met Benjamin Valz, a “meager astronomer aged 70, who still works and climbs to his telescopes aided by the only caretaker… he is so deaf that he can not understand anyone”, he visited the observatory and three days later he was in Paris, host of the confreres of the Jesuit college . In the French capital Secchi was invited to the Académie des Sciences at the Institut de France (Figure 1) where he proudly showed his photographs of the Moon. Finally, he was hosted by Urbain Leverrier, director of the Observatoire de Paris, and he was impressed by his visit to the Observatory (Figure 2): “[The entrance] is a luxury room: chandeliers, mirrors and some ancient instruments, modernized and gold-plated to make them special ornaments… If we had one thousandth [of all this], we would do the same work! “

Valeria Zanini, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
Mauro Gargano, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte

Chinnici I. (2018), Deconding the stars, in press;
Secchi A. (1858), Diario, APUG.