Paris, Meudon

The Paris Observatory is one of the oldest modern observatory on Earth.

The foundation of Paris Observatory lies in the ambitions of Jean-Baptiste Colbert - the Minister of Finances of France of the time - 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. The first director of the observatory was Giovanni Cassini. 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. The observatory's building houses the Paris meridian, now longitude 2°20'14.03” east. It was a long-standing rival to the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world, as was the Antwerp meridian in Antwerp, Belgium.

A commemorative medal was issued in 1667 remembering the foundation of the observatory (a copy, or replica is shown here). On its obverse the contemporary view of the observatory's facade with a long focus refractor - common telescope of the era - is pictured. The legend above is: "· SIC · ITVR · AD · ASTRA ·", i. e. thus one goes to the stars. Legend below is in two rows: "TVRRIS · SIDERVM · SPECVLATORIA" i. .e high tower to observe the stars, and date "· 1667 ·".

Paris 1 reverseParis 1 obverse

On the reverse right facing portrait of the founder, king Louis XIV is visible. Legend around is: "LVDOVICO · XIV · REGNANTE · ET · ÆDIFICANTE ·", i. r. Louis XIV ruler and builder.

Paris 2Later the observatory was moved from the expanding center of Paris. Jules Janssen presented a restoration project of the castle of Meudon, and got the money (more than a million francs of the time) and founded the Astrophysical Observatory there in 1876. A large dome is created then, that still houses observation instruments.

In 1976 a commemorative medal was issued for the first centenary of the foundation of Meudon Observatory. A slightly elliptical (61-63 mm) medal was struck by the Paris mint. On its obverse of this unconventional medal raised dots and disks symbolizes an abstract constellation. Legend along the bottom rim: "· L'OBSERVATORIE DE MEUDON FONDÉ EN 1876 ·", i. e. the Meudon Observatory was founded in 1876. Right to it the signature of the medalist Gilioli, (Émile 1911-1977) is visible.

The reverse of this interesting medal is plane. The yellow brass metal is polished on the reverse of this 12mm thick and heavy, 280 gram medal.