Franco Pacini, 1939–2012

26 January 2012

The Italian astronomer Franco Pacini, who was a key figure in the astronomy community, passed away yesterday, on 25 January 2012.

Pacini began his long-term involvement with ESO in 1975, when he joined the newly created Scientific Division, based in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1978 he moved back to Italy as Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Florence and Director of the Arcetri Observatory, which he led until the creation of INAF in 2001. He played an important role in the accession of Italy to ESO in 1982, represented Italy on the ESO Council — ESO’s governing body — and was also Council President between 1991 and 1994.

He served as President of the International Astronomical Union between 2001 and 2003, and was the founding father of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, a huge success for scientific outreach and increasing the awareness of astronomy around the world.

He will be greatly missed by ESO and by the wider astronomical community.


Mathieu Isidro
ESO, education and Public Outreach Department
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6222

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Italian astronomer Franco Pacini
Italian astronomer Franco Pacini