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Volume 3197a
Nicolas Camille Flammarion
(February 26, 1842 - June 3, 1925)
A Gallery of the Man and His Work
Continued from ERBzine 3197

Age 16

Camille and Sylvie

Camille Flammarion (1842-1925), and his wife, Gabrielle (1880-1962)
Last Portrait of Camille Flammarion

The Telefonoskopi the whole world in the immediate knowledge
of any important or interesting occurrence.
(Flammarion, Camille: La fin du monde)
A Flammarion wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888). The image depicts a man crawling under the edge of the sky, depicted as if it were a solid hemisphere, to look at the mysterious Empyrean beyond. The original caption translates to "A medieval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet..."
"What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely pleasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on earth and transported toward that first stop on the celestial journeys? What thoughtful soul could look at brilliant Jupiter with its four attendant satellites, or splendid Saturn encircled by its mysterious ring, or a double star glowing scarlet and sapphire in the infinity of night, and not be filled with a sense of wonder? Yes, indeed, if humankind — from humble farmers in the fields and toiling workers in the cities to teachers, people of independent means, those who have reached the pinnacle of fame or fortune, even the most frivolous of society women — if they knew what profound inner pleasure await those who gaze at the heavens, then France, nay, the whole of Europe, would be covered with telescopes instead of bayonets, thereby promoting universal happiness and peace." — Camille Flammarion, 1880
Astronomy for Amateurs
" We all are of the citizens of the Sky" This book is dedicated to Madame C. R. Cavaré. Originally entitled (en Français) "Astronomy for Women", the nine page  introduction of this American English edition  reviews the contributions of many 18th and 19th century female contributors to astronomy.
Read the eText HERE

Flammarion Observatory at Juvisy (west side)

Flammarion Observatory (east side)

Observatory Today

Flammarion Observatory Interior

Astronomer Flammarion


Flammarion's map with Hungarian nomenclature.c.1880
Flammarion's map with Hungarian nomenclature.c.1880
Map as appeared in Terres du Ciel, 1884.
Map as appeared in Terres du Ciel, 1884


Flammarion Mars Globe 1884

ERB's Barsoom
Lowell Globe
Lowell Globe

Camille Flammarion and His Celestial Globe, circa 1905

Flammarion Crater on the Moon
Lat: 3.4°S, Long: 3.7°W, Diam: 74 km, Depth: 1.51 km
G ~ 70.5 S - 74.5 S / 250.1° W - 236.1° W
Burroughs Crater On Barsoom (Mars)
 72.5S  243.1W Lat/Long ~104.0 km diameter
(Nicolas) Camille Flammarion (1842–1925)
Ref: Internet Encyclopedia of Science
Flammarion was a French astronomer and author of more than 70 books, who did more to encourage public interest in the subject than anyone else of his day, although many of his scientific and philosophical arguments were eccentric. Born in Montigny-le-Roi, he served for some years at the Paris Observatory (beginning in 1858) and at the Bureau of Longitudes, but in 1883 he set up a private observatory at Juvisy, near Paris, and continued his studies, especially of double and multiple stars and of the Moon and Mars. His first book, La pluralité es mondes habité (The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds), originally published in 1862, secured his reputation as both a great popularizer and a leading advocate of extreme pluralism. By 1882, it had gone through 33 editions, and continued to be translated and reprinted well into the 20th century. 

Flammarion's passionate belief in life on other worlds was nurtured by his readings of previous pluralist authors such as Fontanelle, Cyrano de Bergerac, Huygens, Lalande, and Brewster. He, and another French writer, J. H. Rosny, were the first to popularize the notion of beings that were genuinely alien and not merely minor variants on humans and other terrestrial forms. In his Real and Imaginary Worlds (1864) and Lumen (1887), he describes a range of exotic species, including sentient plants which combine the processes of digestion and respiration. This belief in extraterrestrial life, Flammarion combined with a religious conviction derived, not from the Catholic faith upon which he had been raised, but from the writings of Jean Reynaud and their emphasis upon the transmigration of souls. Man he considered to be a "citizen of the sky," others worlds "studios of human work, schools where the expanding soul progressively learns and develops, assimilating gradually the knowledge to which its aspirations tend, approaching thus evermore the end of its destiny." His linking of pluralism with transmigration, though an old idea, helps explain why these doctrines are often found together in writings from the closing decades of the 19th century. 

Flammarion's best-selling work, his epic Astronomie populaire (1880), translated as Popular Astronomy (1894), is filled with speculation about extraterrestrial life. An entire chapter is taken up in arguing the case for lunar life (see Moon, life on), while Mars he considers "an earth almost similar to ours [with] water, air ... showers, brooks, fountains ... This is certainly a place little different from that which we inhabit." In 1892, he speculated further on the fourth planet in his La planè Mars et ses conditions d'habitabilité though in prose less florid than his earlier work. Concerning the canals, he is open-minded, suggesting "they may be due to superficial fissures produced by geological forces or perhaps even to the rectification of old rivers by the inhabitants for the purpose of the general distribution of water ..." As to Martian life, he concludes "the actual habitation of Mars by a race superior to our own is in our opinion very probable". 

Flammarion's fertile imagination moves from romantic science to scientific romance in his Recits de l'infini (1872) and La fin du monde (1893). The former includes several tales which describe the reincarnation of a spirit on other worlds in various alien forms, while the latter has been seen as a precursor to Stapledon's Last and First Men

His later studies were on psychical research, on which he wrote many works, among them Death and Its Mystery (3 vols., 1920–21). Flammarion earned the amorous attention of a French countess who died prematurely of tuberculosis. Although they never met, the young woman made an unusual request to her doctor, that when she died he would cut a large piece of skin from her back, bring it to Flammarion, and ask that he have it tanned and used to bind a copy of his next book. (The woman also had a picture of Flammarion tattooed on herself!) Flammarion's first copy of Terres du Ciel was bound thus, with an inscription in gold on the front cover: "Pious fulfillment of an anonymous wish/ Binding in human skin (woman) 1882". 

In 1919, Camille married his second wife Gabrielle Renaudot (1876–1962) and for six years they worked side by side to promote astronomy in France. After Camille died, Gabrielle continued to maintain Juvisy Observatory and even made arrangements for work to continue after her death. She is buried next to her husband in the observatory park. 

Ref: Wikipedia
  • La pluralité des mondes habités (The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds), 1862.
  • Real and Imaginary Worlds, 1865.
  • Lumen, 1867.
  • Récits de l'infini, 1872.
  • Les Terres du Ciel, 1884: A man and woman who died at the top of a mountain find themselves reincarnated on Mars. Included is a description of Martian fauna and flora.
  • L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire, 1888.
  • Astronomie populaire, 1880. His best-selling work, it was translated into English as Popular Astronomy in 1894.
  • Les Étoiles et les Curiosités du Ciel, 1882. A supplement of the L'Astronomie Populaire works. An observer's handbook of its day.
  • Uranie, 1889. A man awakens on Mars and meets his reincarnation.
  • La planète Mars et ses conditions d'habitabilité, 1892. A detailed description of Mars, with hints that Martians tried to communicate with Earth during its prehistory.
  • La Fin du Monde (The End of the World), 1893, is a science fiction novel. The director of the Paris Observatory receives a "photophonic" message from Mars warning Mankind about a giant comet about to collide with the Earth. This is followed by several million years leading up to the gradual death of the planet. It has recently been brought back into print as Omega: The Last Days of the World. It was adapted into a film in 1931 by Abel Gance.
  • L’inconnu et les problèmes psychiques (published in English as: L’inconnu: The Unknown), 1900, a collection of psychic experiences

The Flammarion Entry in the ERB Library Project
Flammarion Wikipedia Entry
Internet Encyclopedia of Science

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