of Bischoffsheim who liked to say that he was just "the cashier"
and that he alone"took care of the means to succeed at the result",
was rewarded. Talented men marked the first decades.
First of all, Henri Perrotin was the first director
of this magnificent realization. By his undeniable qualities of managing,
and his personal works he contributed very much to the fame of the Establishment.
He knew how to choose a skillful staff, and to attract high-level scholars.
Perrotin made notable
studies on planets: his observations of the March surface contributed to
make progress to the cartography of the planet; his researches
on Venus rotation attracted attention, even though the
data were badly missing at that time to let him to do a correct measure
of its rotation speed ; and he perceived new details in the Saturn rings.
As concerns the small planets, he made the Vesta's theory.
Perrotin also studied nebulae double stars that
were so closed to one another that they were unobservable any where
else in Europe, meteorology and Earth magnetism. He realized with Alfred Cornu,
famous experiments of the measure of the speed of light between
the Mont Gros and La Gaude (12km) and carried on them with his assistants
Prim and Simonin, between the Mont Gros and the Mont Vinaigre (Estérel)
(46km), improving his determination, with a precision that
will be superseded only twenty years later. Finally, he laid
the foundations of the Annals of Nice Observatory.
toothed wheel observer
Louis Thollon, who had begun his
observations at the Mont Gros even before the Observatory was built, dedicated
the major part of his activity to the Sun, and measured its rotation, comparing
the Doppler effect of the solar lines with fixed telluric lines.
He studied the movements in the sun protuberances, their helical complexity,
and he brought to light speeds of the order of 500km /sec-1. Of his systematic study of
the solar spectrum, Thollon made a large atlas published
after his death, in 1890. The spectra extended over 3448 lines,
the double of Angström's classical atlas , and a third
part of these lines were clearly identified by Thollon as being of telluric
origin. The whole was of a remarkable precision for its time and it was
the most important document on the solar spectrum ever realized with
the spectroscope. A better result will be obtained only by spectrography. Alexandre Schaumasse and
Michel Giacobini discovered a large number of
comets. From 1896 till 1907, Giacobini discovered 12 comets among
which two are periodical: comets Tuttle-Giacobini and Giacobini-Zinner.
Auguste Charlois was called " the
ferret of small planets ", because he discovered hundred of asteroids.
His career was brutally interrupted in 46 years old, when he was
murdered by his brother-in-law. This event was in the local news and threw
the scientific world into consternation. Charles Nordmann was one of the precursors
of radio astronomy. He came at the Observatory when he was very
young and he there prepared a thesis and published original articles
on an experience which he undertook, in 1901, on the slopes
of the Mont Blanc (French Alps) in order to detect the Hertzian
radiation of the Sun . He was not able to prove it, because he worked at
a time of minimum activity of the Sun and at too long wavelengths taht
are essentially blocked by the ionosphere. He carried on
his career at the Paris Observatory, by making remarked photometric studies
of the variable stars, and theoretical researches on the intrinsic
state of the Sun. In 1892, the coudé equatorial,
the principle of which was due to Loewy was put in service and indicated
the beginning of the photographic observations for comets
and planets researches. The next year, at the request of
Perrotin, Bischoffsheim settled an
annex station of observation for the study of big planets and
particularly the rotation of Venus, at the top of one of the summits of
the Maritime Alps, the Mont Mounier (2740m), above Valberg, in the district
of Puget-Théniers where he just hapenned to be elected
as a member of parliament. Meteorological observations were
also made there, but the station was abandoned in 1910.