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The Physical Observatory on the Pic Du Midi

    Naturevolume 13pages251252 (1876) | Download Citation



    AT a recent sitting of the Paris Academy of Sciences M. Ch. Sainte-Claire Deville made a communication, with reference to the proposed Physical Observatory on the Pic du Midi, in the Pyrenees. He referred to the increasing importance of meteorology, and to its manifold extensions and development in recent years, and to the growing necessity of establishing numerous fixed stations at as high an altitude as is practicable. This has already been done to a considerable extent in India, in America, and in some parts of Europe; in France, as we have already intimated, the Puy de Dôme Observatory is nearly completed. M. Deville then referred to the importance of having a station on the Pyrenees, and to the difficulty of choosing a suitable site. The Pic du Midi de Bigorre, however, unites in itself all the most favourable circumstances. Situated towards the middle of the chain of the Pyrenees which receive directly the shock of the Atlantic storms, the Pic du Midi stands out from the general crest, and rises to a height of 2,877 metres, only 527 metres below the highest summit of, the chain. It commands a magnificent and extensive panoramic view, and is easily accessible from various points. From the sixteenth century downwards it has attracted tee attention of men of science, and during the last and th-present century a considerable number of notable observers have resorted to the Pic for the purpose of carrying on observations. Darcet, in 1786, obtained from Philippe d'Orleans the promise of 80,000 francs to found an observatory on the mountain, but the political events which rapidly succeeded prevented the scheme from being carried out. Even then a small hut existed on the spot where the Commission, charged by the Ramond Society with carrying out the present scheme, have built another; the former had been built by Vidal and Reboul, who in 1786–7 surveyed the Pic. Ramond, in the early part of the present century, made about thirty-six ascents of the peak, for the purpose of making barometric observations.

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