Ferdinand Quenisset (1872–1951), French astrophotographer
Quénisset was born on 8 August 1872 in Paris, the son of Gatien Jules Quénisset, an assistant director of Monnaies et Médailles in Paris, and Juliette Antonia Mallard, a dressmaker.Ferdinand became interested in astronomy by reading Camille Flammarion‘s books. In 1891, Quénisset, 19 years old, joined Flamamrion’s Society Astronomique de France as assistant librarian. At the time, the SAF was located at 28 rue Serpente in Paris. Soon, Quenisset worked also as an observer at Flammarion’s observatory in Juvisy-sur-Orge, where he discovered a comet in 1893.He was forced to abandon astronomy for several years while he performed his military service, but then returned to Juvisy to resume his post at the observatory until 1947.
Flammarion’s Observatory in Juvisy
The observatory was established in Juvisy-sur-Orge in 1883 by the French astronomer and author Camille Flammarion, with the support of the Emperor of Brasil, Don Pedro II, who became curious to know about aliens by reading Camille Flammarion‘s books.Flammarion published his first book, The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds, in 1862 and was dismissed from his position at the Paris Observatory later the same year. In Real and Imaginary Worlds (1864) and Lumen (1887), Flammarion describes a range of exotic species and extraterrestrial life, with a religious conviction derived from the writings of Saint-Simonian apostle Jean Reynaud and their emphasis upon the transmigration of souls.
“What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely pleasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on earth and transported toward that first stop on the celestial journeys?…” (Camille Flammarion).