Getting to know the stars with Éric Lagadec

Getting to know the stars with Éric Lagadec
Getting to know the stars with Éric Lagadec

This summer, every Friday, we will return to the stars, it’s the big return of our cosmic bivouacs!

And to start this news interstellar epic serieswe will naturally go back to the origins. For millennia, human beings have been fascinated by the starry skies, hoping to find answers to their existential questions. Observation tools have been improved, knowledge has been refined, but the fascination has remained. Astrophysicist Éric Lagadec recounts this epic in a lovely book entitled “The Cosmic Odyssey – An Intimate History of the Stars” Ed.Seuil (2023). His story mixes the history of science, recent discoveries and personal memories of a passionate astrophysicist who has traveled the planet to get closer to the stars. He has been to where the most powerful telescopes in the world are located, from Chile to Hawaii to Senegal.

Earth Squared Listen later

Lecture listen 54 min

Stardust specialist, Eric Lagadec falls into the cauldron of the cosmic potion while taking a course on nuclear physics at the University of Brest. He goes to study in Nice where he is now based, working at the Côte d’Azur Observatory.

His surname “Lagadec” means “Big eye, good eye” in Breton, Eric likes to say that he was “predestined”!

Auxiliary Telescopes called “Pacman” taken by Eric Lagadec at the Cerro Paranal Observatory, Chile.
– Eric Lagadec

His first book takes us on a journey from the Big Dipper to Betelgeuse, via the asteroid Polymele, the Fried Egg Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. And to tell us about the great scientific discoveries he witnessed, he interweaves personal memories and exploration secrets. Éric Lagadec takes us by the hand to take us through the history of the birth of galaxies, planets and other stars: a great journey in our Universe and in his own!

The Monts d’Arrée, where it all began…

At 21, surrounded by his friends, Éric Lagadec observed the stars for the first time through a telescope on the Monts d’Arrée in his native Brittany. Astronomy allows you to go to inaccessible places, very isolated from cities and the light pollution they generate. Since then, he has discovered exceptional places, where few people have the opportunity to go. It is a chance. And, according to him, knowledge is multicultural and each people has a role to play in scientific exploration.

Exceptional discoveries

Three years after defending his thesis, Éric Lagadec will be able to access what he describes as being the astronomers’ grail : the giant Chilean telescopes, near the Atacama Desert. It was on this occasion that he took his first photo of the Milky Way. (It can be found in the center of the book, figures 5 and 6)

Then, back in Manchester and for two years, he will try to understand what he observed. The star IRAS 17163-3907 becomes his new obsession and he nicknamed it the Fried Egg Nebula with a colleague. Through expertise and observations they understand that they are facing an extremely rare star that shines like 500,000 suns. It is a yellow hypergiant and there are only four or five in the Galaxy.

The Scientific Method Listen later

Lecture listen 59 min

“To the infinite…

But not beyond that!” is the title of the show he performs on stage with the comedian. Guillaume Meurice, starting from the famous phrase attributed to Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity. But, as far as the Universe is concerned, I have not yet acquired absolute certainty.” A good opportunity to learn more about the Universe while laughing out loud. Find all the information and upcoming dates ici.

Musical programming

  • FEIST – My moon my man
  • KATERINE – Under my bob
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