The Marseille Observatory was abandoned by Marseille astronomers in the middle of the 20th century in favour of more modern telescopic sites far from the cities. Today, it is managed by the Andromeda association, which offers numerous visits, events, exhibitions, conferences and observation throughout the year. You are planning to visit Marseille and you are wondering "But what to do in Marseille"? Even if there is no shortage of activities in Marseille, there is one that will please both young and old: the Observatory.
The history of the Marseille Observatory
More than a museum, it is a place that reflects Marseille's history and will delight all astronomy fans. It was the Jesuits in the Panier district who created the Marseille Observatory in 1702. Jean-Félix Adolphe Gambart discovered 16 comets with this telescope. The 1960s were the end of the observatory with the creation of the Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale de Marseille (LAS). It was only in the 2000s that the two entities merged to form the Marseille-Provence Astronomical Observatory.
Today, the establishment is composed of several spaces:
The planetarium, with the implementation of sky discovery sessions open to all
A room for temporary exhibitions
The astronomical telescope dome: a 19th century installation
The exhibition room with the Foucault telescope: other old astronomical instruments are exhibited at the Observatory.
The activities of the Marseille Observatory
The Andromeda association offers a wide range of activities on the Marseille Observatory site. A guided tour with an introduction to astronomy is available to primary and secondary school students with a presentation and explanation of the various observation instruments. It is also possible, when the weather conditions allow it, to practice with a safe observation of the Sun. This initiation lasts on average 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Planetarium sessions for 4-5 year olds, 6-11 year olds, middle school students and high school students are also possible. Presentation of the sky, planets and constellations are planned, followed by a visit to an instrument such as the astronomical telescope dating from 1872 or the Foucault telescope. You can also visit it on your own: the opening hours allow you to visit it every afternoon, from 2pm to 5.30pm during the school holidays and on Wednesday afternoons the rest of the year.
Located in the 4th arrondissement, you will find many restaurants in Marseille that will allow you to eat nearby.
So don't hesitate to plan a visit to the Observatory during your trip to Marseille. You will be able to discover Marseille and its starry sky!