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«Edited by Luís Saraiva University of Lisbon, Portugal EDITED BY: Luís Saraiva University of Lisbon, Portugal PUBLISHED BY: Sociedade Portuguesa de ...»

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Proceedings of

the International


History of


in Portugal

Institutions, Theories,


Edited by

Luís Saraiva

University of Lisbon, Portugal


Luís Saraiva

University of Lisbon, Portugal


Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia

Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal | Tel.:(+351) 226 089 830

Fax: (+351) 226 089 831 | E-mail: spa@sp-astronomia.pt


André Moitinho de Almeida - Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia / Universidade de Lisboa | João Fernandes - Universidade de Coimbra | Joana Ascenso Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia / Universidade do Porto | Alexandre Aibéo

- Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia / Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão de Viseu | Nelma Silva - Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia Copyright © 2014 by Sociedade Portuguesa de Astronomia All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form or any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission from the Publisher.

GRAPHIC DESIGN | PRÉ-PRESS ISBN Hugo C. Moreira 978-989-99087-0-3


Onda Grafe 379493/14 Lisboa, Janeiro de 2014 200 exemplares


Left image: The Scholar Observatory of the Polytechnic School, now integrated in the Science Museum of the University of Lisbon (Photo Marc Heller, MCUL) Right image: «Observatorium Conimbricense. Academian […] Anno M.DCC.

XCII» (1792) The Astronomical Observatorium of Coimbra University [Archive from OAUC G-006] Down image: The Astronomical Observatory of Lisbon, founded in 1861 (Photo Marc Heller, OAL-FCUL) Proceedings of the International Coference

History of Astronomy in Portugal:

Institutions, Theories, Practices Science Museum of the University of Lisbon 24-26 September, 2009

Organizing Committee:

António Leal Duarte (CMUC/Universidade de Coimbra) Carlos Sá (CMUP/Universidade do Porto) Luís Miguel Carolino (Museu de Ciência/CIUHCT) Luís Saraiva (CMAF/Museu de Ciência) Marta Lourenço (Museu de Ciência/CIUHCT) Paula Gualdrapa (Museu de Ciência) Samuel Gessner (CIUHCT/Museu de Ciência) Vasco Teixeira (Museu de Ciência)

Organization and Technical Support:

Ana Alves (Museu de Ciência) Fernando Alberto (Museu de Ciência) Mafalda Madureira (Museu de Ciência) Paula Gualdrapa (Museu de Ciência) Sofa Marçal (Museu de Ciência) Vasco Teixeira (Museu de Ciência)


Samuel Gessner http://chcul.fc.ul.pt/astro Acknowledgements

We thank the following organizations:

The Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) which funded the meeting, and the Foundation of the University of Lisbon (FUL), which managed its grant;

The National Seminar for the History of Mathematics (SNHM), a section of the Portuguese Society of Mathematics, which for the last 24 years has regularly held meetings on the history of the mathematical sciences;

The Portuguese Mathematics Society (SPM) for its constant support of history of mathematics events, and in particular its support of the SNHM; in particular we thank Ana Pedro, who was responsible for the initial layout of the cover.

The Centre for Mathematics and Fundamental Applications (CMAF), the Centre for Mathematics of Coimbra University (CMUC) and the Centre for Mathematics of Porto University (CMUP) for paying the travel and accommodation costs of some of the participants;

we also thank CMAF for funding the revision of Professor Baldini’s text, and Paul Covill who revised it;

The International Centre for Mathematics (CIM), which also partially funded the conference;

The Portuguese Astronomy Society (SPA) for its support of the meeting, for providing information on it on its website, and for making available funds that made it possible to print these Proceedings;

The Science Museum of the University of Lisbon (MCUL) for all their technical and logistic support, which made all the sessions run smoothly;

The Inter-university Centre for History of Sciences and Technology (CIUHCT) for their support in publicizing the meeting and for the participation of its members in its organization.

We also thank all participants and chairpersons for the many stimulating talks and debates that were held during these three days, inside and outside the conference room; in particular we thank Samuel Gessner, for preparing the conference’s website. Last, but not least, we thank Luis Miguel Carolino, who frst had the idea of holding this conference, and was essential in shaping it. Without him this conference would not have taken place.

A word concerning the standardization of the texts: after the end of the Conference, the standards to be followed in the writing of the papers for these Proceedings were sent to all authors. We accepted for publication all papers that, although not complying with some of these standards, did not signifcantly diverge from them.

–  –  –

Foreword1 LUIS SARAIVA, CMAF/Science Museum, University of Lisbon To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s frst telescopic observations, the 62nd United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). This was intended to increase awareness of the importance of astronomy as a science and as a technique. Among the different strategies proposed for this purpose, the Portuguese National IYA2009 Committee, established by the Portuguese Society of Astronomy, highlighted the need to promote events related to the history of astronomy.

The conference on “History of Astronomy in Portugal: Institutions, Theories, Practices”, held at the Science Museum of the University of Lisbon from 24 to 26 September 2009, coinciding with the 22nd meeting of the National Seminar for the History of Mathematics, was an excellent opportunity for scholars and Portuguese researchers on the history of astronomy not only to debate these matters among themselves but also to listen and talk to some of the best international researchers in this area, thereby helping to include Portugal in the international network of researchers in the history of astronomy.

The idea of holding such a meeting came from Luís Miguel Carolino (MCUL/CIUHCT) and was immediately adopted by other scholars. It was organized by researchers of the National Seminar for the History of Mathematics and of the Science Museum of the University of Lisbon (MCUL), with the support of these two organizations, of CIM, of three of the main Portuguese Mathematics centres: CMAF (University of Lisbon), CMUC (University of Coimbra) and CMUP (University of Porto), of the Portuguese Societies of Mathematics and of Astronomy, and of the Interuniversity Centre for the History of Science and Technology (CIUHCT), and was sponsored by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

This text appeared in a slightly modifed and abridged form in the Bulletin of CIM, in December 2009 At the opening ceremony, José Francisco Rodrigues, director of CIM, emphasized the reciprocal infuence between mathematics and astronomy in shaping our understanding and measurement of space and time throughout human history. According to Rodrigues, this can be seen as far back as the early calendars, with their numerical attempts to count the days, seasons and years, and the ingenious method of Eratosthenes to measure the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy. Three other signifcant examples of this historical and scientifc interaction were also mentioned: Kepler's laws of planetary motion, the frst two of which were published in 1609, the year of Galileo’s frst telescopic observations; Le Verrier's 1846 prediction of the existence of the then unknown planet Neptune, using only mathematics and astronomical observations of the planet Uranus (later confrmed by Galle and d'Arrest, within 1° of the predicted location); and the confrmation in 1919, by a team led by Eddington, of Einstein’s prediction of gravitational defection of starlight by the Sun using photographs of a solar eclipse taken on twin expeditions in Sobral, northern Brazil, and on the African island of Príncipe (then a Portuguese colony), which showed the distortion of the structure of space-time by matter, as predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, in turn built upon earlier contributions to differential geometry by mathematicians including Riemann and Levi-Civita.

In Portugal, throughout its history, astronomy developed in the context of the mathematical sciences. At the time of Portugal’s maritime discoveries, astronomical navigation was based on spherical trigonometry, and so it was the mathematicians who taught astronomy to the navigators. During the 19th century astronomy teaching and research developed in the new centres of science teaching, such as the Polytechnic School in Lisbon and the Polytechnic Academy in Porto, in the context of their mathematics courses. The inheritors of these 19th-century institutions, the Faculties of Sciences of Lisbon and Porto respectively, upheld this tradition during the 20th century and continued to consider astronomy as a subject to be taught in their mathematics departments.

The conference organizers decided on a programme that covered a wide time span, from the dolmen builders of south-west Europe to the echoes in Portugal of Einstein’s theory of relativity. There were 17 talks, nine of them by Portuguese researchers. Eleventh-hour problems prevented three of the speakers, Michael Hoskin, Jim Bennett and José Vaquero, from attending the conference, but their texts were read by Luís Saraiva, and the corresponding slides for each talk were shown during the readings. Twelve of these talks are in these Proceedings, in the order in which they were presented at the conference.

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