Comas Solá, Jos

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Comas Solá, José

(b. Barcelona, Spain, 19 December 1868; d. Barcelona, 2 December 1937),


Comas Solá was one of Spain’s outstanding scientists. In 1890 he was graduated from the College of Physical and Mathematical sciences of th University of Brcelona. Shortly after obtaining his degree he began his observations of Mars, which he continued in all its oppositions. In 1894 he made the first Spanish relief map of Mars, in which he incorporated all the latest findings on that planet. Comas Solá was one of the first to theorize that the contours of the so-called Martian canals were more apparent than real. Many of his observations found their way into Flammarion’s La planète Mars Comas Solá extended his observations to other planets, notably Jupiter and Saturn. In 1902 he determined the period of rotation of Saturn by using th white tropical spot of Barnard as a point of reference.

In 1915, anticipating the work of foreign scientists better remembered by posterity, Comas Solá published in the Boletin. Observatorio Fabra an article entitled “La teoria corpuscular ondulatoria de la radiation,” in which he tried to harmonize what had been considered two contradictory theories: the wave and corpuscular theories of radiation.

Compas Solá also did work in seismology, devising a method of ascertaining the depth of seismic epicenters and inventing the stereogoniometer for studying the courses and movements of stars. His constant observations of the heavens resulted in the discovery of two comets, th first to be discovered in Spain for three centuries, and in the discovery of the first eight asteroids in Spain.

He was the founder and director until his death of the Observatorio Fabra, first president of the Sociedad Astronomica de Espana y America, and editor of Urania (Barcelona).


Comas Solá’s books include Astronomia y ciencia general (Barcelona, 1906); El espiritismo ante la ciencia (Barcelona, 1907); Astribina; 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1910; new ed., 1920, which ran into several editions until 1943); and El cielo (Barcelona, 1927). Most of his books reflect Comas Solá’s interest in popularizing science. His more important writings are those in the scientific journals. A fairly complete listing of these is in Poggendorff, VI, I, and VIIb, 2.

There are no works on Comas Solá, and general histories of Spanish science overlook his contributions.

Vicente R. Pilapil