Central and South America: Tropical Hurricanes and Earthquakes (1814–2000)
Jesuit observatories in Central and South America were not very numerous and some were relatively small. Except for the Observatory of San Miguel, Argentina, they were mainly dedicated to meteorology and seismology. The occurrence of tropical hurricanes in the Caribbean and of large earthquakes in the Andean region determined the orientation given to these observatories. Lack of scientific institutions in these countries at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century made the work of Jesuit Observatories in these two fields of special importance. We can say that in great part Jesuits helped to lay the foundations of meteorology and seismology in Central and South America. Recognition of Jesuit expertise in meteorology is shown by the fact that they were asked to organize the national meteorological services in Ecuador in 1870 and in Colombia in 1922. The most important of the meteorological observatories was that of Belén in Havana, Cuba. Seismological observatories were established later and those of greater importance were those in La Paz, Bolivia and in Bogotá, Colombia. Astronomy was never very strong in these observatories, owing, maybe, to the high costs of instrumentation. However, small telescopes were installed at Belén, Cienfuegos, Puebla, La Paz, and Bogotá. These instruments were used mostly for the accurate determination of time and for basic astronomical observations. In Bolivia Jesuits were in charge of the official time keeping service.
KeywordsTropical Cyclone Astronomical Observatory Meteorological Observation Caribbean Region Meteorological Observatory
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