Bernard Lyot

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Bernard Lyot
Born(1897-02-27)27 February 1897
Paris, France
Died2 April 1952(1952-04-02) (aged 55)
Cairo, Egypt
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Known forSolar astronomy
Lyot depolarizer
Lyot filter
Lyot stop
AwardsLalande Prize (1928)
Prix Jules Janssen (1932)
Howard N. Potts Medal (1942)
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1939)
Henry Draper Medal (1951)
Scientific career

Bernard Ferdinand Lyot (27 February 1897 in Paris – 2 April 1952 in Cairo) was a French astronomer.


An avid reader of the works of Camille Flammarion, he became a member of the Société Astronomique de France in 1915 and made his first observations using the society's telescope on rue Serpente in Paris.[1] He soon acquired a 4-inch (100 mm) telescope and soon upgraded to a 6-inch (150 mm). From graduation in 1918 until 1929, he worked as a demonstrator at the École Polytechnique and studied engineering, physics, and chemistry at the University of Paris.

From 1920 until his death he worked for the Meudon Observatory, where in 1930 he earned the title of Joint Astronomer of the Observatory. After gaining the title, he earned a reputation of being an expert of polarized and monochromatic light. Throughout the 1930s, he labored to perfect the coronagraph, which he invented to observe the corona without having to wait for a solar eclipse. Most of this work implied painstaking long observations at the Pic du Midi Observatory. It was an exceptionally good site, free of both air pollution and light pollution but it came with a disadvantage: In the interwar period access to the peak implied mountaineering skills and physical fitness, specially in winter when access was only gained with a long and tiresome ski touring trek on sealskin-fitted skis, a technique mastered by Lyot, a keen sportsman and mountaineer.[2] Accommodation on site can only be described as spartan, before a powerline, a bigger refuge and a cablecar were built in the early 1950's. In 1938, he showed a movie [3]of the corona in action to the International Astronomical Union. In 1939, he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He became Chief Astronomer at the Meudon Observatory in 1943 and received the Bruce Medal in 1947.

Lyot was the President of the Société astronomique de France, the French astronomical society, from 1945-1947.[4]

He suffered a heart attack while returning from an eclipse expedition in Sudan and died on 2 April 1952, at the age of 55.[5]

Observations and Achievements on Pic du Midi[edit]


Telescope Bernard Lyot

Awards and honors[edit]


Named for him


  1. ^ D'Azambuja, L. "L'œuvre de BERNARD LYOT," L'Astronomie, Vol. 66, p.266.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ List of presidents of the Société astronomique de France
  5. ^ "Bernard Lyot". Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  6. ^ "The Bruce Medalists". Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Winners of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society". Royal Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  8. ^ "The Bruce Medalists". Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Past Winners of the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  10. ^ "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2011.