Observatory of Geneva

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Observatory of Geneva
Organization University of Geneva
Code 517  
Location Sauverny, Versoix, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland
Coordinates 46°18′32″N 6°08′06″E / 46.309°N 6.135°E / 46.309; 6.135 (Observatory of Geneva)Coordinates: 46°18′32″N 6°08′06″E / 46.309°N 6.135°E / 46.309; 6.135 (Observatory of Geneva)
Established 1967 (1772)
Website Observatory of Geneva
(Old) Observatory of Geneva
Organization University of Geneva
Code 189  
Location Geneva, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland
Coordinates 46°11′59″N 6°09′08″E / 46.1998°N 6.1523°E / 46.1998; 6.1523 (Observatory of Geneva (former location))
Established 1772
Closed 1969

The Geneva Observatory (French: Observatoire de Genève, German: Observatorium von Genf) is an astronomical observatory at Sauverny in the municipality of Versoix, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. It has been active in discovering exoplanets,[1][2] in stellar photometry, stellar evolution models, and has been involved in the European Space Agency missions: Hipparcos, INTEGRAL, Gaia and Planck.

It operates the 1.2m Leonhard Euler Telescope at La Silla.

In cooperation with University of Liège it supports TRAPPIST, a 0.6 m telescope that aided in showing that Eris may be smaller than Pluto in 2010.[3] The program also observes comets and hunts exoplanets.[3]


In the past, the Geneva Observatory participated in assessing and rating Swiss timepiece movements for accuracy. As marine navigation adopted the usage of mechanical timepieces for navigational aid, the accuracy of such timepieces became more critical. From this need developed an accuracy testing regime involving various astronomical observatories. In Europe, the Neuchatel Observatory, Geneva Observatory Besancon Observatory and Kew Observatory were examples of prominent observatories that tested timepiece movements for accuracy. The testing process lasted for many days, typically 45 days. Each movement was tested in 5 positions and 2 temperatures, in 10 series of 4 or 5 days each. The tolerances for error were much finer than any other standard, including the modern COSC standard. Movements that passed the stringent tests were issued a certification from the observatory called a Bulletin de Marche, signed by the Directeur of the Observatory. The Bulletin de Marche stated the testing criteria, and the actual performance of the movement. A movement with a Bulletin de Marche from an observatory became known as an Observatory Chronometer, and such were issued a chronometer reference number by the Observatory.

The role of the observatories in assessing the accuracy of mechanical timepieces was instrumental in driving the mechanical watchmaking industry toward higher and higher levels of accuracy. As a result, today high quality mechanical watch movements have an extremely high degree of accuracy. However, no mechanical movement could ultimately compare to the accuracy of the quartz movements being developed. Accordingly, such chronometer certification ceased in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the advent of the quartz watch movement.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ M. Mayor & D. Queloz, A Jupiter-Mass Companion to a Solar-Type Star, Nature, 378, 355. 1995Natur.378..355M
  2. ^ Delfosse, X.; Forveille; Mayor; Perrier; Naef; Queloz (1998). "The closest extrasolar planet. A giant planet around the M4 dwarf GL 876". Astronomy and Astrophysics 338: L67–L70. arXiv:astro-ph/9808026. Bibcode:1998A&A...338L..67D. 
  3. ^ a b Kelly Beatty - Former 'tenth planet' may be smaller than Pluto (November 2010) - Newscientist.com

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