Jean Dufay

Lyon Observatory 
"Jean Dufay"

Jean Dufay was born in Blois (Loir-et-Cher) on July 18, 1896. Bachelor in 1913, he began the preparation of a Bachelor of Science at the Sorbonne, but he enlisted in 1915 to the 131st infantry regiment and did not resume his studies until 1919. He was, from January to October 1921, in charge of of preparatory classes at the Faculty of Science in Paris then, from October 1921 to October 1925, professor at lycée de Montpellier, from October 1925 to October 1927, at lycée Charlemagne in Paris, from October 1927 to December 1928, at lycée Saint-Louis. He had the chance to meet, as a young associate, two masters: C. Fabry and Cabannes, who engaged to their work and proposed to him a thesis subject: Research on the light of the night sky. He defended this thesis in 1928 in Paris. He worked, first in Montpellier, then in Paris, on a subject slightly at the borders of astronomy, but it was astronomy which fascinated him; on February 16, 1929, he entered the Lyon Observatory as an assistant astronomer. He was appointed assistant astronomer on July 1, 1931 to replace Gallissot, in charge of direction on March 1, 1932 and director of the observatory on October 1, 1933, succeeding Mascart. His work focused on novæ and comets. He participated with Grouiller in a mission to Louiseville (Canada) to observe the total solar eclipse of August 31, 1932. On December 25, 1934, when the discovery of Nova DQ Herculis was announced, he hastily improvised a small objective prism and the same evening the spectrum he obtained showed the presence of the cyanogen absorption bands. It was the start of a spectroscopic and spectrophotometric study of many novæ. He participated with Gauzit in an expedition to Kustamaï in Kazakhstan to observe the total eclipse of the Sun of June 19, 1936. The bad weather made it impossible to make any observation.
Dufay belonged to this generation of researchers who, like Danjon, suffered from the inadequacy of the means made available to astronomers between the two wars. He was therefore quite naturally led to take an interest in the project of a large Astrophysical observatory; he participated very actively in 1924, with Couder, in site research and was appointed by Jean Perrin, in 1939, director of the Observatory of Haute Provence, newly created, while his friend, Mineur, became director of the Institut d 'Paris Astrophysics.
He trained several students: Marie Bloch, Renée Herman, Bigay, Tcheng Mao Lin. He published four books: Galactic nebulae and interstellar matter (Albin Michel, Paris, 1954), a Course in Astrophysics, Introduction to astrophysics: the stars (Armand Colin, Paris, 1961) and Les Comètes (PUF, Que sais- I? No. 1236, Paris, 1966).
Jean Dufay died suddenly on November 6, 1967 in Chaponost (Rhône) where he had retired a year earlier. Its name was given to a lunar crater.
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Charles Fabry grad student 1928 Universite de Marseille (France) (Chemistry Tree)


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Maurice Dufay grad student Lyon Observatory
Evry Léon Schatzman grad student 1945 Universite de Paris (Astronomy Tree)
Francois Sibille grad student 1975 Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 (Astronomy Tree)
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