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.

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), Florian as well as Eléonore (with Mahdi and their son Michael) are still in Hawaii, though on Oahu instead of the Big Island. 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, and Dominique in San Francisco. Dagmar shares my life since 2008 and we are currently living in Tucson, AZ.


Music is an important component of my life. I play baroque music on the recorder and sing (mainly Bach and 20th century works by composers like Milhaud). When in Hawaii, I played with instrumentist friends, occasionally performing in local churches, for friends or with the West Hawaii Recorders. I was also the director of 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. The Consort is still doing very well under the joint direction of some of its singers!

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...