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Gian Domenico Cassini
(Fabrizio B˛noli)


Fig. 1: Portrait of Gian Domenico Cassini.
(Credit: Quadreria dell'UniversitÓ degli Studi di Bologna)

 

Gian Domenico Cassini was born in 1625 in Perinaldo, Liguria.
His early studies were at the Jesuit College of Genoa, where he met Gian Battista Baliani, physicist, mathematician and correspondent of Galilei.

In 1649, having predicted the victory of Innocent X's troops, assembled  in Bologna for a military expedition against the Duke of Parma, Cassini became famous as an astrologer – something he was not at all, and something he never wanted to be. However, the Marquis Malvasia summoned him to Bologna to run his private observatory and the following year he began teaching Astronomy at Bologna University.

 

 

Thanks to the important research he did in Bologna, Cassini became one of the most famous European astronomers of the time and in 1669 he was summoned to Paris by the Sun King, Louis XIV, to be the first director of the newly-opened Observatoire Royal

Cassini married in Paris and started a veritable dynasty of astronomers who ran the Observatoire right up to the French Revolution, by then under his great-grandson Cassini IV.

 

 


Fig. 2: A group of scientists of the AcadÚmie des Sciences, including Cassini (see arrow), paying homage to the Sun King.  In the background, the imposing Observatoire Royal.
(Credit: Parigi, Archives dell'Observatoire de Paris)
 

Although Cassini lived in Paris, he remained in constant touch with the Bolognese circle and collaborated actively in founding  the Specola, the Science Istitute's observatory.  
The Senate of Bologna University would never come to terms with his departure and kept the Chair of Astronomy open for him until his death in Paris in 1712.

(Gian Domenico Cassini - page 1 of 4)
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