The night falls on the “Pic”. Hunted by the darkness and the polar temperatures, the tourists have deserted the scene. This is the perfect time for stargazing. Slowly, the domes open and the imposing telescope Bernard Lyot aligns to its target : a star of light invisible to the naked eye, located at more than 10 000 billion kilometres from Earth. Well hot in their office close – it’s minus 17°C outside, the astronomers gather patiently the first data. The graphics, the curves and the colored bands that appear on their screens do not have the beauty of Saturn’s rings. But that doesn’t matter : for them, these information are worth gold. Because they provide, in themselves, a scientific future of the site.

“the history of The Peak was not a long quiet river, confirms Nicolas Bourgeois, the deputy director general of the observatory. Our mission has evolved over the years.”From the 1930s, the site has acquired a worldwide reputation thanks to the coronagraph, a device for studying the solar corona. In the 1960s, the domes of the pyrenees produced the images of the Moon, the most accurate from the ground to the point that the u.s. space Agency (Nasa) itself used to prepare the Apollo missions. Today, its researchers excel in spectropolarimety – the study of the magnetic field of stars -a discipline little known to the general public.

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