Nuit étoilée au Semnoz


One thousand and one nights with Philippe Jacquot

Star chaser
Aug 2022
2 min.

We have great news for any of you who spent time gazing out the window and at the heavens during your junior high school Earth and Life Science classes: Philippe Jacquot, astronomer, astrophysicist, and skilled photographer, offers the chance to head into the great outdoors to study the stars and to make up for any of those missed classes from once-upon-a-time.

Embark on an outing at dusk near Annecy to better understand the mysteries of the constellations, the origins of the universe, or how stars form. On the top of Mt. Semnoz or the Parmelan, at 1700 meters and 1800 meters elevation, Philippe organizes evening outings to observe the stars. Accessible and open to anyone with an appetite for knowledge, novices included.

What exactly can one observe when gazing at the heavens? The stars, the moon, the planets, the Milky Way (a concentration of stars that form white streaks in the night sky), groupings of stars (like the Pleiades/Seven Sisters), nebulas (the massive gas clouds that form when a star explodes), galaxies… With guidance from an expert, and armed with binoculars, a telescope, a laser, and a star map, learn to spot these celestial objects and gain a better appreciation of just how vast the universe truly is.

Starry night at Le Semnoz

© Philippe Jacquot / Starry night at Le Semnoz

Before the gazing begins, while waiting for nautical twilight (when the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon, the time of day when the first stars appear), enjoy a quick review of the fundamentals: the stars moving through the sky, easily identifiable constellations, including the most well-known among them, the Big Dipper… Philippe takes the time to answer your questions in depth. Once astronomical twilight arrives, revealing thousands of points of light in the sky, your eyes will widen in amazement and the practical exercise will fill you with a true sense of wonder.

Starry night at Le Parmelan

© Philippe Jacquot / Starry night at Le Parmelan

Philippe also organizes outings on top of Le Parmelan. A 1-hour and 15-minute walk, starting from Chalet de l’Anglettaz, takes you to the Parmelan Hut, where Philippe will be waiting at 19:00 (7pm) for the group to arrive. After sharing a delicious meal prepared by the hut manager, the star gazing begins. We recommend spending the night at the hut, which you should reserve ahead of time, or to set up your tent somewhere in the vicinity since walking out at night can sometimes prove a more perilous adventure than expected.



Starry night at Le Parmelan

© Philippe Jacquot / Starry night at Le Parmelan


  • © Philippe Jacquot

Journalist: Aude Pollet Thiollier

Translation: Darin Reisman