Flammarion, Camille (1842-1925)

Nicolas Camille Flammarion was a French astronomer and author.  He was a founder and the first president of the Société astronomique de France. He also published the magazine L'Astronomie, starting in 1882. He maintained a private observatory at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.

Camille Flammarion was a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and works on psychical research and related topics. Both the Flammarion crater of the Moon and the Mars are named after him. Asteroids 1021 Flammario is named in his honour, and it is believed that 107 Camilla derives from Flammarion's first name. In addition, 154 Bertha commemorates his sister; 654 Zelinda his niece; and 87 Sylvia possibly his first wife. 141 Lumen is named after Flammarion's book Lumen: Récits de l'infini; 286 Iclea for the heroine of his novel Uranie; and 605 Juvisia after Juvisy-sur-Orge, France, where his observatory was located.

The Société astronomique de France regularly issues the Médaille Commémorative. The right facing excellent portrait of Flammarion is a work of the famous medalist Alphée Dubois (1831-1915), who made it in 1900. The first medal pictured here has an engraving in its rim: "MEDAILLE COMMEMORATIVE - 1949 - GEORGES CHARRON", i. e. it names the rewarded person and the date of issue.

Flammarion 1 reverseFlammarion 1 obverse

The reverse is also a work of Alphée Dubois. The picture of the medal is dominated by the beautiful goddess Nox, who is flying above the globe of Earth, among the stars. A planet, a comet and the crescent Moon is also discoverable. The name of goddess is dot printed on the globe. Legend around is the name of the society: "SOCIÉTÉ ASTRONOMIQUE DE FRANCE". Below the date of foundation was engraved: "FONDEE EN 1887".

A later issue of Médaille Commémorative shows exactly the same obverse as its predecessor.

Flammarion 2 reverseFlammarion 2 obverse

However its reverse has another, much simpler design. The legend is also the same, but a wreath and a dotted ring in the center is used to hold the name of the rewarded person, in this case "M. PAPIN", "1919 - 1979".

In 1882, Camille Flammarion got this former post house from one of his admirers, Louis-Eugène Meret a rich Bordeaux merchant who died without heir, and he quickly transformed it to Observatory Juvisy-sur-Orge. On the entrance gate, he enrolled the motto "ad veritatem per scientam", i. e. for the truth with science. The observatory was used for more than half a century and observations that were made by Camille Flammarion and astronomers who assisted him made the city Juvisy a center of scientific research until the Second World War.

On the obverse of a 74.5 x 58 mm bronze plaque the half right facing portrait of the founder Camille Flammarion is visible. Legend below his name is: "FONDATEUR DE LA SOCIETE ASTRONOMIQUE DE FRANCE", i. e. the founder of the Astronomical Society of France. In front of him the date of issue "MCMXLII", i. e. 1942 is visible. Behind him the sign of medalist "ABEL LA FLEUR - SCULPT -", i. e. Abel Lafleur sculptor (1875-1953).

Juvisy 1 reverseJuvisy 1 obverse

The reverse shows the observatory's facade among trees. With small capitals below it is its name: "OBSERVATORIE FLAMMARION JUVISY 1863", i. e. Flammarion Observatory Juvisy 1863. On the top two dates 1842 the birth year of Flammarion, and 1942, the issue date of this medal is visible. The legend in seven lines below is: "A CAMILLE FLAMMARION POUR COMMEMORER LE CENTENAIRE DE SA NAISSANCE", i. e. to commemorate the centenary of his birth. Below it on the left the sign producer of this plaque the Paris Mint, on the right the date again "MCMXLII", i. e. 1942 is placed. At at the bottom the motto of entrance gate of the observatory is written  "AD VERITATEM PER SCIENTAM", i. e. for the truth with science.