This astronomer at the observatory of the Côte d’Azur popularizes space on social networks

Star, telescope, galaxy… the Niçois Éric Lagadec makes concepts that seem distant accessible to more than 85,000 subscribers who follow his explanations every day.

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The head in the stars, or rather the head in the dust of stars, specialty of this assistant astronomer at the Côte d’Azur observatory, of the university of the same name.

Astrophysicist, he is also president of the French society of astronomy and astrophysics.

Éric Lagadec studies the death of stars after 8 years of thesis and 8 years of post-doctorate abroad. For me it’s a job like any other. If we take the time to learn it should be accessible to everyone“.

Making it accessible, this goes for the astrophysicist through publications on the social network Twitter in particular. “There is a small community, we are almost 90,000. I receive tens, hundreds, thousands of messages but I can’t answer them all.“.

The astronomer comments for France 3 Côte d’Azur on a video from NASA’s James Webb space telescope. Éric Lagadec explains to us that it allows us to better understand how stars are formed:

We see here the Milky Way, our galaxy. We’re going to zoom 160,000 light years towards a galaxy, it’s millions of stars, it’s called the Large Magellanic Cloud. And if you look here, there’s a pretty bright place where stars form. This is the Tarantula Nebula.

(…) In the center, there is a star cluster called R136, where the most massive stars in the universe are located. We have stars that are 200, 250 times the mass of the sun. As observed in the infrared, before these stars were hidden, now appearing“.

Eric Lagadec is aware of how lucky he is to have learned all this and for him, and it’s important to pass it on.

The astrophysicist wants to allow his subscribers to broaden their horizons, to almost send them into space: “Our society lives in an anxiety-provoking climate. When you look at the information there is a lot things that can be scary and I think people need to escape so I think that popularizing astronomy showing images of the sky gives this opportunity to escape“.

According to him, astronomy makes it possible to better understand the world from a scientific point of view.

“We live in a society that is facing scientific challenges: climate change, energy transition. We can understand better when we understand the sciences”.

Éric Lagadec, assistant astronomer at the Côte d’Azur observatory

Éric Lagadec wants to be accessible to everyone. “Jspent a lot of time trying to find the best way to explain things. To make it look easy you have to spend time doing it.

I like the analogy: if we take a musician, we will see a virtuoso and we will say that he has talent. In fact, if you spend a lot of time working it becomes simple” he explains.

The after Covid gives desires elsewhere. The astrophysicist saw his number of subscribers explode in record time.

A year ago we were at 2500 and now every month there are tens of millions of people watching the tweets I can post. So I hope that we will continue to learn more and above all that we will continue to learn together”. He points out that there is also a lot of interaction between his subscribers who write to him so often.

It’s nice to receive messages almost every day that say: JI never thought I would understand anything in astrophysics. I will buy a telescope, books for my children »“. More than to receive, it is the desire to transmit that prompted Éric Lagadec to take up his keyboard, and this desire extends for him to infinite space.

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