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Jean DUFAY (1896-1977), professeur, astrophysicien et directeur d’observatoires

Abstract : We trace the life and career of Jean Dufay, and at the same time, this allows us to study the development of observations and astrophysical research in the Lyon and Haute-Provence Observatories.Jean Dufay was born in Blois in 1896. After his military involvement in the First World War, he joined the ENS and passed the agrégation in physics in 1921. He taught for seven years in high schools, while preparing a PhD thesis, presented in 1928 : Research on Light in the Night Sky.He then chose a new career and entered the Lyon Observatory in 1929, as an assistant astronomer. He became director of the institution in 1933 and directed his team’s work towards research in stellar astrophysics. Besides, in 1932, Jean Dufay joined the ministerial commission studying the creation of an astrophysics observatory. In 1937 he was appointed director of this future institution, which would later become the Haute-Provence Observatory (OHP). While keeping his post of manager of the Lyon Observatory, he coordinated the construction and equipment of the OHP, which in 1959 became one of the most modern ones in Europe, with a 193 cm telescope associated with a large spectrograph.Jean Dufay was at the helm of the two observatories until his retirement in 1966, while teaching at the Faculty of Sciences and keeping up his astrophysical research. He published numerous articles and several books. He chaired a commission of the IAU, and gained genuine recognition in the international scientific community of his time.Jean Dufay was one of the actors of the renewal of astronomy in France, in the second third of the twentieth century. When he arrived in Lyon, the observatory mainly worked for positional astronomy, with methods that had been unchanged since 1880. In less than ten years, this kind of research fell into disuse and was replaced by precision photometry and spectrophotometry. After the Second World War, astrophysical practices were integrated for good into Lyon Observatory, which then works in synergy with OHP
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 4:22:05 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 30, 2022 - 12:02:06 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-02149930, version 2


Yves Gomas. Jean DUFAY (1896-1977), professeur, astrophysicien et directeur d’observatoires. Histoire, Philosophie et Sociologie des sciences. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE1087⟩. ⟨tel-02149930v2⟩



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