Raoul Lannoy


Let me tell you a bit about the Nuit des Etoiles Filantes (Night of the Shooting Stars) and , no, it is not an Italian movie, it's a real 20 year old astronomy event!!!


I can't find anything in English, so I'm going to describe it as much  as I can.


The public TV channel Antenne 2 (now called France2) in august 1990 (the Friday night nearest the Perseid maximum) , organized a live public event, outside, in an arena south of France, a 4 hour long astronomy night, together with well known astronomers and youth science associations. The HST had just been brought to orbit, so astronomy was becoming more and more popular!

The purpose was to attract the public and mainly children during august when it's dark around 10:00 PM (not too late and it's vacation and summers can be warm, plus the Perseids are active!). It was very successful and repeated the following year with a great osmosis between Claude Serillon a TV anchorman and Hubert Reeves a well known Canadian astronomer. Many more associations joined and dozens of journalists were spread around France.

Some years, astronomical events were also commented during the NEF,   like the Total Solar eclipse in august 11 1999 or anniversaries like Aldrin's presence in 1994. All during those years, more and more clubs got involved (without internet, yet) and then other countries joined, like Belgium Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Algeria, Marocco.....
Then it was decided the NEF would involve 3 nights (thursday, friday, saturday -in the hope at least one night would be clear- before the Perseids peak)...In Belgium I also joined the activities and our only European Space Camp -Eurospace Center joined them too on thursdays, inviting all belgian astronomy clubs on the thursday before Maximum. At the Eurospace Center, we got interviewed by the national frenchspeaking public TV  channel RTBF. We got interviewed (and made lots of free publicity for our clubs) by radio channels.
Those things have evolved during the years.

By 2001, the osmosis was gone between Serillon (who no longer was anchorman) and Reeves, so by 2002 it was the last time France2 showed live La Nuit des Etoiles  Filantes but the impetus was there, the habits too and local  TV channels, radio stations and especially the internet took over. Another thing is to get together with a large number of amateurs from Belgium and it's really fun.....

I'm not aware the AFA or the SAF ever were interested in getting countries involved, worldwide. If there are, it's mainly through the commonality of a latin languages and/or neighborhood.  I'm sure the original organizers wouldn't mind if this event became global. But, yes, the action is local (Belgium has decided for instance that their NEF would take place next week-end while France organized their last week-end).

Raoul Lannoy


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    About Me

    Born in Belgium in 1957 (from a Belgian father and an American mother). Here, everything seems a lot more complicated: more taxes, more government, more languages, more people per square kilometer or mile, more light pollution, but, nevertheless, as much passion for things going on up there, naturally or man made. This was thanks to the first time I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey back in 1968, followed by the promises of the Moon. One weakness was my dislike for maths, which led to human science studies (law and a specialization in insurance). I've been working since 1982 in the...


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