This summer school is intended in priority to college and high-schools teachers who know a basic astromnomy and want to initiate themselves to research works completed by the astronomers, and to the organizers supervising young people during the stays of initiation to the astronomical practice. The summer school is held at the Haute-Provence Observatory.

For the beginners, we propose another summer school of initiation to the various astronomic themes which takes place at the Observatory de Haute-Provence. For more information or inscription, click here.


As a part of the teaching program of the UFE (Unité Formation Enseignement), the Observatory of Paris (Institut de Mécanique Céleste) with the Observatory of Haute-Provence organizes in August, a stay of one week at the Haute-Provence Observatory. The aim of this stay is to allow high-school teachers who followed training courses of the UFE at the Paris Observatory to complement their training by an initiation to the current techniques and methods of observation. They will be able, thereafter, to animate themselves training courses with their classes in centres of astronomy receiving the pupils. We can observe all kinds of objects of the sky, but we will insist on the study of the solar system objects and their movement and stars spectroscopic observation.

This document provides general information about the observations which are carried out there and on the Haute-Provence Observatory and the used instruments. Astronomers ensure the supervision of this summer school.

For any further information please contact :

    par courrier : Institut de mécanique céleste
École d'été
Jean-Eudes Arlot
77 avenue Denfert-Rochereau
F-75014 Paris
  By mail :
  By phone : J.E. Arlot  : +33(0)1 40 51 22 67
  NOTA: Part of this document is founded on the information given by the Guide Pratique de l'OHP.


The Observatory of Haute-Provence (OHP) is situated at 2 km in the north of the village of Saint Michel-l'Observatoire and at 12 km of Forcalquier (the Alps of Haute-Provence), at an altitude of 650 meters on a oak wooded plateau. Its construction, decided in November 1936 by a committee chaired by the physicist J Perrin, start in 1937. The 0,80m telescope was the first instrument installed on the site, and it is in 1958 that the 1,93m telescope operates, it was the biggest telescope on the national territory. The development of the main European observatories (the ESO in Chile) or international (the CFH in Hawaii), in sites of high altitude and good quality of transparency and stability of the atmosphere transformed the role of the national observatories such as the OHP. The OHP gives the access to several instruments of excellent quality supported by a consequent infrastructure giving it a complement role of the distant main observatories. It is a well adapted site to carry out, in particular, long-term works such as astrometry. The images are of average quality but the number of usable nights is rather high.

The OHP lodges a scientific group composed of J.P. Sivan (head of the OHP), A. Labeyrie, C. Chevalier, D. Gillet, S. Ilovaisky, Ph. Véron and M.-P. Véron-Cetty. It is composed of administrative services (administration, missions and library) and of engineering departments (optics, mechanics, electronics, detectors, maintenance of the telescopes). The whole of these services gathers approximately 70 people.

The OHP (see observatory plan) is a mission observatory, it thus provides to the astronomers on mission of observation several essential services. Lodging is carried out on the site in the premises of the Maison Jean Perrin where are available double or single rooms, and common premises for the meals. A dome assistant is affected to each telescope used by the astronomers on mission; his role is in particular to take care of the handling of the instrument (pointing and follow-up of the objects) and of the implementation of the detector if it is about the OHP instrumentation. He has authority to control the compatibility of the use of the instrument with the safety requirements.


The trainees are lodged on the spot and the sessions of observation proceed each night from sunset time... to daybreak if the weather allows it. We have 3 different telescopes equipped with cooled CCD detectors. Each night the trainees are divided by groups of 4 per telescope and are brought to take part in various kind of image acquisition. The afternoon, according to wishes' of the trainees, the conference-workshops take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The observers have additional laboratories adjoined to the domes and from which the acquisition of the data is carried out. The handling of the receivers and the telescopes is under the responsibility of a dome assistant. However the telescopes are at the outside temperature and it is useful to have hot cloths even in August... In addition, any external light is banished from the observatory and it is advisable to have a flashlight to be able to circulate from one building to another during the night (access to the domes, the library, the restaurant and the rooms).


Access to the OHP

The OHP is located at 2 km in the north of the village of Saint-Michel-L'Observatoire in the Alps of Haute-Provence (04). It is situated 20 km of Manosque, 30 km of Apt (Vaucluse), 80 km of Avignon and 100 km of Marseilles (see map 1 - region and map 2 - OHP surroundings). Map 1 is extracted from the map of Michelin 919 "France-Sud" in 1/1000 000 and map 2 is extracted from IGN map in 1/100 000.

Accees by road :

 From the valley of the Rhone: nationale 7 or motorway A7 then D22 near Avignon (Apt direction), then N100. 30 km after Apt, take the direction Saint-Michel-l' Observatory on the left

 From Marseille :

 Take the direction of Aix-en-Provence then the N96 or the motorway A51 towards Sisteron. In Manosque take the direction of Apt by the D907. At 10 km of Manosque, take the D105 on the right towards Saint-Michael l'Observatoire.

 Access by train :

 The OHP is close to the stations of Avignon (80 km), Aix-en-Provence TGV (90 km) and Manosque (20 km). We recommend for the trainees coming from Paris, to take the TGV to Marseilles, then the train or the bus until Manosque. We will wait for you at the station of Manosque to lead you to the observatory.

You can find indicative schedules of these various means of transport hereafter :

Aller: (le lundi 8 août 2005) D=départ  A=arrivée
Paris D (Gare de Lyon)==> Marseille A Marseille D ==> Manosque A
  10:20     13:30     14:13     15:32  
  13:20     16:30     17:11     18:28  
  14:20     17:36     17:52     19:19  
  15:20     18:20     18:50     20:14  

Retour: (le samedi 13 août 2005) D=départ  A=arrivée
Manosque D:Marseille A:Marseille D:Paris A: (Gare de Lyon) 
  10:32    11:50    12:29    15:41 
  15:34    16:49    17:29    20:41 
No guarantee of the shown schedules :
Check by consulting SNCF website:


The OHP is equipped with a UNIX and PC workstations network that the astronomers on mission can use to communicate and work. The trainees have an access to this network and to Internet.

The principal useful phone numbers are :

Standard:   04 92 70 64 00 
Coupole télescope T80:   04 92 70 64 19 
Coupole télescope T120:   04 92 70 64 20 
Coupole télescope T152:   04 92 70 64 69 
Bibliothèque:   04 92 70 64 86 
Maison Jean Perrin:   04 92 70 64 47 
FAX:   04 92 76 62 95 


Three telescopes are used : the telescope of 0.80m the one of 1.52m and the one of 1.20m. These three telescopes are equipped with a CCD (Coupled Charge Device) detector and with an associated computer. This type of detector revealed to be a detector of a great interest for astrometry because of its great sensitivity and its geometrical stability. It allows acquiring images in numerical form that we can thus handle with a computer (PC) thanks to specialized software. For these treatments we use either a software application called Astrol, or the Midas software under Unix of which a detailed documentation is available.

You can find the CCD characteristics and the telescopes (T152cm and T80cm) used at the OHP on the Haute-Provence Observatory website.


Each trainee will spend at least a night on each of three telescopes and two nights on the telescopes of his(her) choice (we have five complete nights). The program will be as follows :

 Telescope of 80 cm :

This very handy telescope will be used to show how a telescope functions. We will learn what is astronomy with CCD detector and we will initiate to detector preparation, to its confguration and to images acquisition operations. We will train to point particular celestial objects increasingly difficult using the pointing circles and calculations carried out before. We will learn how to identify a stellar field in a "finder" (small auxiliary glasses with large field) and to centre this object in the field of the telescope. The observations could be visual or be done by a very sensitive video camera located at the focus of the telescope. The practice of the observation requires the knowledge of these fundamental operations of observational astronomy which are the telescope pointing and the identification of a field to find the sought object even if its magnitude is low. We will train by observing fields characteristic (stellar clusters, galaxies...) and by seeking certain objects of the solar system (comets, asteroids, planets) visible at that time.

 Telescope of 152 cm :

The 152 cm telescope is equipped with a fibre spectrograph and CCD detector allowing the recording of star spectra. In addition to the stars composition, the spectra also allow to measure radial speeds. Thus the extra-solar planets are detected by the radial speed variation which they produce on their mother-star.

 Telescope of 120 cm:

The observations carried out with this telescope belong to the current research programs. First of all we will learn what is astronomy using a CCD detector and we will initiate to the preparation of the detector, to its parameter setting and the operations of image acquisition. Astrometrical observations will be carried out, in particular the follow-up of asteroids or comets. Measurements will be taken, in particular to find a one night asteroid on the other. We will use Internet accessible tools to prepare, test and exploit the observations of the night. We will initiate to obtain coloured images by the use of filters.

Some information on the observed objects

 Asteroids :

The asteroids are many objects which interest much the astronomers because of their variety, their dynamic and physical characteristics and which can give essential information concerning the origin and the evolution of the solar system. These objects, often visible high speed, present particular phenomena giving access to a very great astrometrical precisions : stellar occultation and rapprochements. These two types of observation could be practised. The asteroids approaching the Earth have very high visible speeds and require particular techniques of observation.

 Comets :

In 1997 we could observe a very active comet, the Hale-Bopp comet. If the observation of a very brilliant comet is rare, many comets are however observable each year and research and observation of the movement of these comets compared to the star field will be carried out.

 Double stars, star cluster, nebulas, galaxies :

To carry out useful astrometrical observations, it is necessary to know the geometry of the CCD target. For that it is possible to carry out the acquisition of known stellar fields images, well measured by other astrometrical instruments. One can use for that the double star or globular clusters observation. The difficulty often lies in the fact of choosing objects of small field calibration (core of globular cluster) near the field of the objects of which we study astrometry.
We proceed to this type of observation of calibration by observing certain double stars and the clusters M13, M67, M53. These observations should enable us to determine target constants useful for the astrometrical reduction of any other object. We will discover also a very large variety of objects, double and triple stars, stellar clusters, planetary nebulas and galaxies.

 Close stars :

The close stars characteristic will be observed using the spectrograph to detect their components by the analysis of the light and the description of the absorption and emission lines.


The afternoon conference-workshops will take place if the trainees are not too much tired by the night observations... or if it rains (it is unfortunately possible, even if the climate of Provence is in general favourable to the astronomers). The proposed topics will be among the followings :
- astronomical coordinates, equatorial, horizontal, ecliptic, hours, sideral time
- distances in astronomy, the solar system dynamic, relativity
- astronomical time scales and calendars
- occultations in the solar system
- the solar system, use of CD Rom of the solar system exploration
- the spectroscopy, radial velocity of stars
- telescopes and astronomical instrumentation
- the Venus transit - historic aspect - and calulation of astronomical unity

BIBLIOGRAPHY - to look further into the techniques used during the training course

Several works or articles allow obtaining general information on the solar system objects, astrometry, or the CCD techniques of observation and analysis :

"beginners" level :
Le passage de Vénus, EDP Sciences, 2004
Les éclipses de Soleil, EDP Sciences, 1999
Guide de données astronomiques pour 2005, EDP Sciences, 2004
Le Grand Livre du Ciel, Bordas, 1999
Dictionnaire de l´astronomie, Ph. de la Cotardière, Larousse

"professional" level :
Buil, Ch.: 1990, CCD Astronomy, William-Bell Inc.
Chiu, H.Y, Warasila, R.L., Remo, J.L.: Stellar astronomy,Vol. 1, Gordon and Breach
Encrenaz, Th., Bibring, J.P.: 1989, Le système solaire, Inter Editions, Edition du CNRS.
Gordon Walker: 1987, Astronomical Observations, Cambridge University Press.
Green, R.M.: Spherical astronomy, Cambridge Univ. Press
Kovalevsky, J.: Astrométrie moderne, Lectures notes in physics, Springer Verlag
Léna, P.: 1996, Astrophysique, Méthodes physiques de l´observation, Inter Editions, Edition du CNRS.
Van de Kamp, P.: Principle of Astrometry, Freeman and Co., San Francisco


This training course is reserved to the teachers of secondary school and colleges whose lessons include an initiation to astronomy and celestial mechanics. The registrations will be made at the Unité Formation Enseignement (UFE) of Paris observatory. They can also be done by writing a cover letter and by returning this form at the mentioned address in the beginning of this document.

The contribution to the fees is of 50 € per person. The accomodation for the five nights stay in complete pension is of 275 € in single room and 230 € in double room.
Caution, the training course of 2005 will be quickly complete and you can as from now book a place for this training (dates : August 8-13 2005) by returning the pre-registration form.


On trouvera ci-après un lien sur le compte rendu des l´écoles d´été qui se sont déroulées jusqu'à présent :


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