Buenaventura Suarez, S.J. (1679-1750) Part 1: Telescope maker, Jovian satellites observer

S. Galindo, M.A. Rodríguez-Meza


During the first half of the 18$^{th}$ century, Father Buenaventura Suarez performed a series of astronomical observations in the Jesuit Reductions of Paraguay. His observations were published in prestigious European journals such as the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Acta of the Royal Scientific Society of Uppsala. Working in the antipodes of the Jesuit astronomical centers of Europe and Asia, Suarez was not cut off from their mainstream activities. Educated at Cordoba, present day Argentina, under the Jesuit scholarly tradition, he was familiar with the observations and astronomical knowledge of his time. In spite of being an untutored astronomer he was capable of constructing his own telescopes, perhaps the first telescopes ever built in the Americas. Our present work analyzes the happy local circumstances that allowed him to produce his own astronomical instruments in Paraguay. By examining factual evidence from fictitious tales we show that, contrary to the common belief, Suarez was not provided with English telescopes for his observations. In addition we examine the circumstances and context of his observations on Jupiter's satellites, and the accuracy of his measurements. We show how his observations reached the Royal Society of London. Our findings prove that the politics of the Royal Society facilitated him this communication and it was not through a rather complicated network that Suarez sent London his data as was previously published. By examining factual accomplishments from alleged deeds we try to breakdown the mythology associated to this extraordinary personage.


Buenaventura Suarez; early telescopes; history of science; Jesuit astronomy

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Revista Mexicana de Física E

ISSN: 2683-2216 (on line), 1870-3542 (print)

Semiannual publication of Sociedad Mexicana de Física, A.C.
Departamento de Física, 2o. Piso, Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM.
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