Since 1991, the "Nuits des étoiles" have been attended by the public free of charge throughout France, and for several years now in European and North African countries, to share a passion for astronomy for one or more nights in August.
Volunteers from astronomy clubs and various bodies work to show the young and the old astronomy with telescope observations, exhibitions, planetarium shows, talks, games etc. All this is free and open to the general public.
When it was first introduced, the "Nuit des étoiles" was called the "Nuit des étoiles filantes" (the night of the shooting stars). This was because in August, the shooting stars called the "Perseids" can be seen. The dates of the "Nuits des étoiles" were chosen according to this phenomenon, which was at its maximum intensity on 12 or 13 August.
Until 2002, the "Nuit des étoiles" was broadcast on television in France. There were live link-ups with observation sites and many features on astronomy.
Since 2000, the events have taken place over 3 days and the concept has been exported outside France.
The 2006 "Nuits des étoiles" poster: celebrate the night