A short bio

I was born in Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle, France) in 1954. I went through elementary school and middle/high school there, spending 9 years (from 6th grade to "Math Spé") at Lycée Henri Poincaré.

I attended Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (or ENSET at it was known back 35 years ago) for four years , graduating in Mathematics at Université d'Orsay (Paris Sud) and with a Masters in Astronomy (DEA) at Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). For my first thesis (Thèse de Troisième Cycle), which I defended in 1979, I spent many nights at Pic du Midi Observatory, observing the satellites of Uranus on photographic plates at the 1m telescope.

After a year spent teaching high school mathematics to juniors and seniors at the Lycée Beaumont in St Dié, I was hired as an astronomer in October 1980 at CERGA (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches en Géodynamique et Astronomie), located on a plateau 30km North of Grasse. I moved from the observation and dynamics of the satellites of Uranus to Lunar Laser Ranging and time transfer experiments. CERGA is now part of OCA-Geoazur.

After 16 years spent close to Grasse on the French Riviera, I moved in September 1996 to the gentle hills and green meadows of Waimea, on the Island of Hawai'i, to work as Resident Astronomer for CFHT. I managed various CFHT projects, moved in 1999 to the Senior Resident Astronomer position (now called Director of Science Operations), and became Executive Director of the Observatory in April 2003, completing my third and last term on Apr 30, 2012.

After more than 16 years spent on the Island of Hawai'i, I moved in early February 2013 to Tucson, Arizona, where I currently lead the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory. While headquarters (and my office) are on the University of Arizona campus, the LBTO telescope is seated close to the summit of Mt Graham, in the Pinaleno Mountains.

Beyond work


Of the six of us who came to Hawai'i in 1996 (two parents and their children ages ranging from 10 to 16 at that time), only Florian (the youngest) and I (the oldest!) were still in Hawaii in early 2013. The other kids and their mom are spread over two continents: Bénédicte in Flint, Michigan, Adeline in France with Ryan and their children Nathalie and Sébastien, Eléonore with Mahdi and their son Michael in Boston, and Dominique in San Francisco. Dagmar shares my life since 2008 and we are now living in Tucson, AZ.


Music is an important component of my life. I play baroque music on the recorder and sing. While in Hawai'i, I directed the Waimea Consort, a 12-singer a-cappella vocal ensemble I created in 1998, performing rarely sung vocal polyphony from the Middle-Age to the contemporary period. After a last concert with me just before my departure to Arizona, the Consort is now living a life of its own: great to see! Meanwhile, I am quietly pondering what to do in Tuscon... a Tucson Consort? Life will tell ;)

Amateur radio

Si tous les gars du monde is one of the first movies I ever saw. I was in elementary school and it had a profound effect on me. To become an amateur radio operator was a dream in the back of my mind, but it never came to be realized for a long time. By chance, two decades later, we ended up living next door to a retired electronics engineer who was a friend of Dominique's parents as well as a radio amateur (or "ham"), Philippe (F8QA). After a few years of hesitation, I passed the test, received my license, and was given the F5IDM call sign I have been using since then in many of the places life made me visit...