The server of the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon-Nançay
F. Arenou, J.M. Chevalier, K. Dubost, S. Huille, C. Laurent, L. Letourneur, J.M. Malherbe, J. Schneider, F. Spite, M. Spite
Observatoire de Paris, France

  1. What is the aim of the server? And which kind of information should be given accordingly?
    The server should give to astronomers information about the Observatory :
    • providing a general description of the Observatory
    • providing a description of the scientific activities of the Observatory, the available domains of expertise, the seminars and colloquia organised at the Observatory
    • providing a description of the available facilities, encouraging the interested astronomers to come and use these facilities locally or providing entry points for using them remotely, when possible.
    • providing astronomers of foreign countries with a few practical details such as access to the sites of Meudon and Nançay, information about lodging, etc.
    More generally, the server should help:
    • the students, providing information about the participation of the Observatory in the formation of students to two University grades: DEA (Diplome d'Études Approfondies) and Thesis, both useful for further work either in astronomical research or (as it happened at least in the past) in industrial research.
    • the general public, describing the way to participate to the regular visits of the sites of the Observatory, and to possible extraordinary visits such as "Science en fête", when appropriate.
    Finally, owing to its possibility of rapid and permanent updating, the server should be useful also to the members of the Observatory, providing
    • a reliable list of the head and secretaries of the Departments and Services, with phone and fax numbers
    • a reliable list of the phone extensions of all the members of the Observatory, of their fax and e-mail, of their precise location in the observatory campus: this list will not be globally accessible from outside and the people asking to be protected ("red list") will not be accessible from outside.
    • a routine for the selection of preprints among those received at the library (a routine made and maintained by Wacrenier)
  2. What else should be provided?
    The venerable Observatoire de Paris has a long history, a summary of this history is provided. The server provides access to other observatories and institutions and to useful facilities running in these institutions, but for rather obvious reasons, only governmental (or inter-governmental) institutions are quoted. Any publicity for any (even useful) commercial service, is therefore automatically avoided, as well as lending credit to a possibly tendentious organisation.
    The Observatory is obviously responsible for the informations published in the pages included in the server, as well as in the servers of the Departments and Services. Should personal pages be allowed? Even mentioning personal tastes, and data about private life and addresses of private correspondents? Opinions are different among the members of the editorial committee, and a strong feeling for free expression is found in many people. A compromise will be tried, asking to put a clear disclaimer at the head of each personal page, denying any responsibility of the Observatory in the content of such pages. The juridical value of such disclaimers is not clear, and the main protection against harmful consequences relies in the common sense and sense of responsibility of each member of the Observatory, about the content of the pages.
  3. The installation of the server on a workstation was rather straightforward. The server points towards the servers of several Departments or Groups. Particular care was exercised about the security. Due to the fact that the WWW server computer host is also used for scientific calculations, it is clearly important to prevent any threat on users data. For instance, indicated e-mail do not mention the user's computer name nor its login name; the exact location of requested HTML documents is not indicated, etc.
  4. Choice of language: It seems normal that the server is first written in French language. It is hoped that the French accents will not perturb the unacquainted English-language readers. An var piwikSiteId="cdsweb";