FRENCH-ARMENIAN COLLABORATION IN ASTRONOMY

The French-Armenian collaboration in astronomy dates back to 1960-1970-s (V.A. Ambartsumian, D. Chalonge, J.-C. Pecker, G. Courtes, L.V. Mirzoyan, V.S. Oskanian, et al.). Interestingly, several famous astronomers of Armenian origin work in France: Agop Terzan, Zadig Mouradian, Ralph (Ara) Krikorian, Georges Alecian, et al, though some of them were born in other countries. In the database of Armenian astronomers there are 14 scientists living and working in France. A more intimate cooperation between French and Armenian astronomers was established in 1994 with the program PICS renewed afterwards as the program JUMELAGE. Daniel Kunth and Artashes Petrosian were the coordinators of this collaboration. This successful cooperation was financed over 10 years (1994-2003). As a result about 100 articles were published in various journals and proceedings of international meetings. A French-Armenian colloquium was held in 1995 in Byurakan, Armenia, where 19 French astronomers participated. Many famous French scientists were involved in this collaboration, including Philippe Véron, Daniel Kunth, Georges Comte, Brigitte Rocca-Volmerange, et al. PICS and JUMELAGE significantly activated the science in Byurakan, which was in a very heavy situation after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Particularly, the 2.6m telescope re-started operating by the help of French astronomers from Marseille (J. Boulesteix’ team); pointing/guiding system was established, Fabry-Perot interferometre was installed and used for a few years, a focal reducer ByuFOSC and multi-pupil spectrograph VAGR were built. Chances for re-aluminisation of the 2.6m mirror appeared.

Later on, in 2007, new PICS started for 3 more years. Georges Alecian and Arthur Nikoghossian are the coordinators of this new collaboration. In addition, several other visits of Armenian astronomers to France (INSU and ANR positions) and joint supervision of Ph.D. students were accomplished. French astronomers regularly participate in meetings held in Byurakan and by support of French scientists the Armenian students have participated in summer schools in Les Houches and Goutelas. In 2005, collaboration between the French and Armenian Virtual Observatories (VO) started which involves several institutions in France and is aimed at creation of VO access for the Digitized First Byurakan Survey (DFBS), as well as several science projects based on the DFBS have been started.

           
Viktor Ambartsumian, Charles
Fehrenbach
, and Ludwik Mirzoyan
    Viktor Ambartsumian and Charles
Fehrenbach
during a boat trip
    Daniel Chalonge and Ludwik
Mirzoyan
in Armenia