The French scientific community has been in turmoil since the death of Georges Courtès, at the age of 94, on 30 October in Aups, near Marseille.

This leading authority in space astronomy had lived in Marseille since 1949, and had contributed to the creation of the Space Astronomy Laboratory (LAS) in 1964-1965, which he managed until 1984.

As our colleagues from La Provence remind us, this laboratory then merged with the Marseille Observatory, giving “birth to the current Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (LAM), which is today involved in the largest international scientific programmes, in particular, the search for exoplanets, and among them, possible twin sisters of the Earth”.

The Marseilles daily continues: “A member of the Académie des Sciences, former president of the French National Committee for Astronomy and the ESO Instrument Commission, but also an associate member of the American Skylab (Apollo) and Spacelab programmes, and Russian Galactika, he had devoted his work to imaging and spectrography in astrophysics, on the ground and in space.”


Georges Courtès will be buried this Thursday, November 7 in Monaco, in the family vault. Because the famous astronomer had deep ties with the Principality. Indeed, he had married Marie-Louis Guierre, 96 years old, with whom he spent peaceful days in a retirement home in Aups.

The Guierre family is well known in the Principality. “All the Guiras went to Albert-Ier High School,” says Jacqueline Guierre, the astronomer’s sister-in-law.

Marie-Louise is the daughter of Admiral Gabriel Guierre, who settled in Monaco in 1942, and the granddaughter of Arthur Lemoël, a former colonel of the Prince’s Carabinieri at the very beginning of the 20th century.

After a ceremony in Aups, Georges Courtès will be buried in Monaco’s cemetery this Thursday, November 7, in the strictest family privacy.