IAFE   05512
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
capítulos de libros
First echoes of relativity in Argentine astronomy
Historia de la Astronomía Argentina
Asociación Argentina de Astronomía
Lugar: La Plata; Año: 2008;
In this note we consider the attitude of astronomers in Argentina in connection with the new problems posed by relativity theory, before and after General Relativity was presented in its final form. We begin considering, very briefly, the sequence of ``technical'' publications related to relativity that appeared in Argentina and use it to attempt to identify who were the relativity leaders and authors in the Argentina scientific community of the 1910-1920s. Among them there are natives of Argentina, permanent resident scientists, and occasional foreign visitors. They are either academic scientists, or high school teachers; we leave aside the {\it philosophers} and the {\it aficionados}. For the main characters we discuss, very briefly again, the scientific facts and publications they handled, the modernity of their information and the ``language'' they use to transmit their ideas to their readers.Finally, we consider astronomers proper; first Charles Dillon Perrine, an astronomer interested in astrophysics, contracted by the government of Argentina in the USA as director of its main observatory. He became interested in testing the possible deflection of light rays by the Sun towards 1912; his Argentine expedition was the first to attempt that test. Perhaps Perrine was not so much interested in Einstein's formulation of relativity theory, which then was perceived as very far away from his own field of research, as in testing the particular astronomical effects it predicted. In any case, he attempted to do so with the acquiescence and financial support of the Argentine state, and as a leading member of its official scientific elite. We briefly contrast his very specific and strictly scientific efforts with those of our second astronomer, Jos\'e Ubach, SJ, a secondary school teacher of science at a leading Buenos Aires Catholic school who reported in response to Eddington's expedition. Finally, our third astronomer is F\'elix Aguilar, a leading scientist with a more definite interest in astrometry, who made an effort to contribute to the public understanding of Einstein's theories in Argentina in 1924, when Einstein's visit to Argentina had become a certainty.