Who we are
In 1887, the renowned astronomer Camille Flammarion (1842 – 1925) founded the Société astronomique de France (SAF), the French astronomical society. Its objective remains unchanged to this day: “to popularize the sciences of the Universe and to involve amateurs in their advancement.” In short, SAF promotes the development and practice of astronomy in all of its richness and diveristy. This covers multiple activities undertaken by numerous and active members of France’s oldest astronomical association. SAF is open to everyone. Although it is a French institution, it has always had a strong international dimension and many members are from other countries.
What we do
The association’s activities include:
Welcoming the public at its three astronomical observatories : the Astronomy Tower of the Sorbonne in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Camille Flammarion Observatory in Juvisy-sur-Orge (south of Paris) and the Bélesta observatory near Toulouse, in the south of France.
Managing twelve specialized commissions in which both professional astronomers and amateurs participate: Astronautics, Comets, Cosmology, Double stars, History, Instruments, Meteors, meteorites and impacts, Planetary observations, Planetology, Radio astronomy, Sundials, and the Sun.
Publishing l’Astronomie, the monthly magazine of reference for astronomy in France.
Producing various publications on different themes, including Observations et Travaux, which shares the astronomical work of SAF members.
Promoting astronomy in French-speaking Africa through l’Astronomie Afrique, a free online quarterly magazine. It is produced by the Société astronomique de France in partnership with the Association Sénégalaise pour la Promotion de l’Astronomie.
Organising monthly conferences and lectures that feature prominent national and international experts in different fields.
Offering courses in astronomy, mathematics and physics.
Maintaining an extensive library that includes both historical and modern works, available for research and consultation to members and non-members alike.
Promoting collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers (Pro-Am) through joint observation campaigns, workshops, and awards.
Organising Rencontres AstroCiel, an annual astronomical gathering every August at which astronomy enthusiasts come together for two week of observations in Valdrôme (Drôme department) in southeastern France, at 1,300 meters altitude.
Introducing 10-15 year olds to the understanding and practice of astronomy through AstroCiel Jeunes, an astronomy camp also held at Valdrôme every August.
Encouraging young people to become involved in astronomy by creating videos under the guidance of professional astronomers and sharing them through the Younivers YouTube channel.
Teaming up with other leading institutions such as the Paris Observatory, the European Space Agency (ESA), the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), etc. to organise events for the general public on the occasion of major astronomical phenomena – eclipses, comets, planetary transits – and important space missions.
Organising trips around the world to observe eclipses, auroras, etc.
Operating an optics workshop where SAF members can manufacture their own mirrors and equipment.
Since its very beginning, SAF awards prizes and medals to both members and non-members in recognition of important achievements. The most prestigious is the Jules Janssen Prize, which is international and is given every year to a professional astronomer in recognition of their scientific work as well as for their contribution to the dissemination of astronomy to the public. Famous recipients of the Janssen prize include Sir Arthur Eddington (1928), Albert Einstein (1931), Georges Lemaître (1936), Michel Mayor (1998), and Reinhard Genzel (2000).
The Prix international d’astronautique (International Astronautics Prize) is awarded in recognition of an important work related to how interstellar travel can be achieved or to a work that can increase knowledge in one of the branches of astronautics. It was established by Robert Esnault-Pelterie and André-Louis Hirsch. Prior to 1936, it was known as the Prix Rep-Hirsch (Rep-Hirsch Prize).