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Historia (Santiago)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7194


VALDES, Catalina; PELIOWSKI, Amarí; BOOTH, Rodrigo  and  MONTALBAN, Magdalena. Alcances naturalistas de una expedición astronómica: James Melville Gilliss y la institucionalización de la ciencia en Chile (1849-1852). Historia (Santiago) [online]. 2019, vol.52, n.2, pp.547-580. ISSN 0717-7194.

In 1849 the U.S. Naval Astronomical Expedition, headed by Lieutenant James Melville Gilliss, arrived in Chile with the mission to register observations that, triangulated with those carried out in the northern hemisphere, would allow the measurement of the solar parallax. For three years, the members of this expedition studied the stars, but also the geography, geology, weather, flora, fauna, society, history and the economy of Chile, all of which was registered in the six volumes of the expedition’s report. In this article we consider this expedition as a case study of the dynamics of scientific practice that were put forward during the middle of the nineteenth century. We are particularly interested in observing the expedition as an example of the configuration of a local scientific platform that responded to transnational interests, and also as a transition from an enlightened comprehension of natural history to a modern understanding of the disciplined sciences.

Keywords : Chile; United States; Nineteenth Century; Naval Expedition; Science; Astronomy; James Meliville Gilliss; Solar Parallax.

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