History of Astronomy in Portugal
Edited by Fernando B. Figueiredo & Colette Le Lay
Série III, n°3

This volume is dedicated to the Portuguese history of astronomy, from the Discoveries to the middle of the 20th century. It is composed of research articles by six recognised Portuguese scholars and its main objective is to place the history of Portuguese astronomy of this period in the wider context of the international historiography. It is a rich and (possibly) unknown history to the international community of historians of science.

La relecture précise de la version finale du manuscrit par Georges Letissier, professeur au Département d'études anglaises de l'université de Nantes, et par ses étudiants de Master 2, François Duclos, Amani Jebali, Manon Leroyer, Baptiste Lescot, Marion Lotodé, Clémence Talec a été très précieuse. Qu'ils et elles soient très chaleureusement remerciés.

Résumé des articles

STÉPHANE TIRARD - Avant-propos  [Article.pdf]

FERNANDO B. FIGUEIREDO - Introduction  [Article.pdf]

ANTÓNIO COSTA CANAS - The Astronomical Navigation in Portugal in the Age of Discoveries  [Article.pdf]

This paper is about the evolution of astronomical navigation in Portugal, in the Age of Discoveries. We will focus our attention on the contributions, by the Portuguese mariners, to the determination of latitude at sea, using Polaris or the Sun. Besides the longitude issue has a solution only in the second half of 18th century, the Portuguese sailors intended a method to obtain this geographical coordinate, appealing to the conjunctions and oppositions of the Moon. This method was used in Magellan’s voyage (1519-1522). In this paper, we will try to present these efforts made by the Portuguese, that allowed them to face the vast oceanic waves with some degree of confidence.

BRUNO ALMEIDA - For the Benefit of Cosmography: Notes on the Contributions of Pedro Nunes to Astronomy  [Article.pdf]

This paper addresses the astronomical work of the Portuguese mathematician and cosmographer Pedro Nunes (1502-1578) by focusing on his printed texts. It is mainly argued that this astronomical production was highly motivated by practical needs of his professional activity as a cosmographer. I start with identifying his main interests and contributions in order to show that his astronomical output can be divided into three main categories: translations of earlier texts, commentaries to those texts and original research. This gave way to new vectors of transmission of his work, to fellow scholars and cosmographers in similar professional situations. To exemplify this occurrence, I provide some details of the transmission of his work and its influence in French cosmography.

LUÍS TIRAPICOS - Astronomy and Diplomacy at the Court of King João V of Portugal  [Article.pdf]

During the reign of King João V of Portugal (r.1707-1750), astronomy took part in a movement of cultural renewal and gave impulse to notable international exchanges, which were promoted by the absolutist monarch himself. Using the Portuguese diplomatic network and the extensive epistolary networks of their own Society, a group of Jesuit astronomers – with Neapolitan Giovanni Battista Carbone in the leading role – developed an efficient program of precise celestial observations. This program met João V’s political agenda in several ways: the creation of new observatories and the publication of results in European academic journals increased the prestige of the monarchy and a novel cartography of Brazil improved the geographical knowledge of the colony.

FERNANDO B. FIGUEIREDO - The Portuguese Astronomical Activity in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries  [Article.pdf]

In the late 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, the Portuguese centre of gravity for astronomical research (and teaching) was the Royal Astronomical Observatory of the University of Coimbra. This scientific establishment was envisioned under the Pombaline reform of the University of Coimbra in 1772. Linked to the new Faculty of Mathematics, the Observatory played a pivotal role in the formation of the community of Portuguese astronomers during the first decades of the 19th century. In this paper, we will put in context the scientific work carried out at the Observatory, following the practice of the most famous observatories of Europe, then we will examine how the astronomical work of Monteiro da Rocha, which encapsulated theoretical and practical astronomy, was tuned with the major astronomical problems of that time.

VITOR BONIFÁCIO - Costa Lobo (1864-1945), the Coimbra Spectroheliograph and the Internationalisation of Portuguese Astronomy  [Article.pdf]

At the beginning of the 20th century, Portuguese astronomy was still firmly anchored in the past. Only astronometric research was pursued and Portuguese professional as¬tronomers seldom published their results. This situation changed in the 1910s thanks to the actions of Francisco Miranda da Costa Lobo (1864-1945). Costa Lobo initiated the construction in Coimbra of a world-class solar observing facility in close co-operation with observatory astronomers based in Meudon. Recognising the importance of international relations, he made frequent scientific travels and disseminated his research to a wide audience. In this paper we improve on the current understanding of the Coimbra spectroheliograph installation. We argue that Costa Lobo’s actions, foreign support and social skills played a fundamental role in the internationalisation of Portuguese astronomy.

PEDRO M. P. RAPOSO - Meteorology, Timekeeping and “Scientific Occupation”: Colonial Observatories in the Third Portuguese Empire  [Article.pdf]

This paper presents a tentative overview of colonial observatories in the Third Portuguese Empire (1825-1957). The main issue under focus is the problem of action from a distance, that is, the attempts to steer an imperial network of observation from Lisbon, the tensions and obstacles that emerged in this undertaking, and the strategies implemented as a response. The paper develops around five key episodes: the attempt to create an imperial network of meteorological outstations controlled by the Infante D. Luis Meteorological Observatory (Lisbon), in 1857, the establishment of the Luanda Observatory (later João Capelo Observatory) in 1879, the inauguration of the Campos Rodrigues Observatory in Lourenço Marques (nowadays Maputo) in 1908, the attempt to upgrade the João Capelo Observatory in the 1920s, and the constitution of the National Meteorological Service of Portugal in 1946. These episodes are placed in their political context and approached with regard to the aspirations of imperial resurgence that underlay the Third Portuguese Empire.
Date de parution et publication en ligne : décembre 2017
ISSN 1297-9112 / ISBN 978-2-86939-245-1
Version papier disponible