UE14: Initiation to astronomical observations

Field training SIMO

The Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL) and several universities (Sorbonne Université, Versailles Saint-Quentin, Aix-Marseille) have organised a common field training for several graduate-level formations, including this M2 in Planetary Science. This field training is known as SIMO (Stage d’Initiation aux Méthodes d’Observations) and takes place in the Observatoire de Haute-Provence (OHP) facilities every year in late October.

The 120 cm OHP telescope used for some SIMO practicals

Students stay for 3 days at OHP along with teaching staff members. They are hosted on site at guest house Maison Jean Perrin. During their stay, the students are dispatched into small groups and shown several sounding instruments for Earth atmospheric monitoring, as well as some astronomical instruments. These visits are complemented by conferences and courses about the experimental devices and measurements methods used in atmospheric science and astronomy, such as NDACC, T80 and T120 telescopes, as well as introducing recent advances in astronomy with an emphasis on exoplanetary science, a strong asset of OHP.

Finally, the students attend practicals using several professional-grade devices: lidar, SAOZ, greenhouse gases analyzers, etc. During the night shifts, they can use the 80 cm and 120 cm telescopes and observe some celestial objects such as planets, galaxies, nebulæ, etc. as well as acquire a first-hand experience through planning, performing and processing their own astronomical observations.

NGC 891 galaxy as observed by SIMO students using the 80 cm telescope.
Limb and lunar terminator as observed by SIMO students using the 80 cm telescope

For planetary science students, SIMO is one among the proposed teaching units. As such, students are evaluated based on their own short technical report describing the observations they have performed using the T80 and T120 facilities.


  • Dr Irène Xueref-Remy for SIMO as a whole. OSU Pytheas, Aix-en-Provence, France – E-mail : irene.remy-xueref[@robas]univ-amu.fr – Tél. 06 19 75 71 61
  • Dr Emmanuel Marcq for M2 planetary science students. LATMOS, Guyancourt, France – E-mail : emmanuel.marcq[@robas]latmos.ipsl.fr – Tél. 01 80 28 52 83