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4 The Heavens

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Chapter Summary

In China, Jesuit astronomy was a hyperbolic operation of captatio benevolentiae. This chapter focuses on Buenaventura Suárez, a Jesuit astronomer born in the Río de la Plata who worked in the Guaraní missions during the first half of the eighteenth century. In order to have a term of comparison, the author starts by considering the astronomical work of Mascardi, an Italian missionary to southern Chile and northern Patagonia during the middle of the seventeenth century. Probably on account of his expertise on the use of mathematical instruments, in 1722 Suárez was asked to survey some lands concerning a dispute between the missions of San Ignacio Miní and Loreto. The Annua for 1750 affirms that Suárez was "extremely skillful for anything he intended" and several historical testimonies support this statement. In the introduction to his book Lunario de un siglo, Suárez claims that he made his own astronomical instruments.

Keywords: Buenaventura Suárez; China; Jesuit astronomy; Lunario de un siglo; Mascardi



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