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A bit of history

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The Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL) is a Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR 5574) created in 1995 under the auspices of Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL1) and École Normale Supérieure (ENS) of Lyon. The CRAL is part of University of Lyon (UdL).

CRAL has two geographical sites :

  • the Observatory of Lyon at Saint-Genis-Laval,
  • the campus Monod of the ENS of Lyon, in the 7th district of Lyon.

The Observatory of Lyon has been created the 11 March 1878 with the astronomer Charles André (1842-1912) as first director until 1912. Il est located on a 4 hectares field in the Saint-Genis-Laval town. In its early stages, the Observatory was both astronomical and meteorological, giving the time to Lyon’s town and reporting the weather, in parallel with observations of celestial sources (stars, planets, …). The weather activity has disappeared in favor of astronomical observation from 1920 to the 40s, with the development of spectroscopy and photometry.
In 2008, a new building has been built , founded by Ville de Saint-Genis-Laval, Grand Lyon, Région, Département, Ville de Lyon. It contains a high quality workshop, in which has been integrated and tested the instrument MUSE for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chili.

The ENS of Lyon has been created the 1st January 2010, regrouping the ENS-Lyon scientific and literary sections, coming respectively from the previous ENS of Saint-Cloud (founded in 1882) and ENS of Fontenay-aux-Rose (founded in 1880). The scientific ENS-Lyon has been first inaugurated in 1986 and in 1993, an astrophysical theory group has been constituted.

In 1995, the astrophysical activities within the Observatory of Lyon and the scientific ENS of Lyon (then ENS of Lyon in 2010) have been gathered in an Unité Mixte de Recherche - operational structure of research in France - the CRAL (UMR5574).
Directions of CRAL :

  • Roland Bacon (1995 - 2005)
  • Bruno Guiderdoni (2005 - 2015)
  • Laurence Tresse (2016 -)