The Manila Observatory (originally the Observatorio Meteorológico del Ateneo Municipal de Manila, and later the Observatorio Meteorológico de Manila) is a non-profit research institute housed in the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines. Founded in 1865 by the Jesuits, it has served many purposes over the years including weather forecasting and earthquake research. Today it has continued to carry out research in seismic and geomagnetic phenomena as well as radio and solar physics.
The establishment of the observatory originated from the article published in Diario de Manila by Father Jaime Nonell, a Jesuit, which described observations of the typhoon of September 1865 done by Father Francisco Colina, another Jesuit. The treatise attracted the attention of the public who asked the Superior Juan Vidal for the observations to be continued. There was initially hesitation on the part of the Jesuits due to the primitive instruments available but later agreed when the needed instrument, the Secchi Universal Meteorograph, was promised to be purchased from the Vatican.
Thus began the systemic observation of the Philippine weather led by a Scholastic, Father Federico Faura. It started issuing warnings on typhoons in 1879. Earthquake observations by the observatory started the next year. The Spanish government finally recognized the observatory as the official institution for weather forecasting in the Philippines in 1884. In 1885, it started its time service; its seismology section put up in 1887 while astronomical studies began 1899.
During the American period, realizing the vitality of the observatory, it was re-established by the colonial government in 1901 as the Philippine Weather Bureau. The bureau continued its works expanding its fields of works to include meteorology, astronomy, and geomagnetism. The work of the bureau was interrupted by the Second World War. During the Battle of Manila, all of the instruments and important documents of the bureau were completely destroyed. Also, it ceased to function as a specific government agency was established for the same purpose. The observatory began again its operation in 1951 in Baguio mainly for studies on seismology and ionosphere. It was later transferred in 1963 to the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University where it continues its studies on seismology, geomagnetism, and radio physics, among other areas of research.
Organizational structure and activities
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The observatory is mainly composed of two units: the administration and the research units.
Administration is primarily composed of:
- General Administration
- Human Resource and
- Physical Facilities and Supplies.
Their Research programs include:
1) Climate Change Assistance
2) Geomatics for Environment and Development
3) Instrumentation and Technology
4) Regional Climate Systems
5) Solid Earth Dynamics
6) Urban Air Quality and
7) Special Research Projects.
Scholastics of the Observatory
The observatory was found by the Scholastics and the Manila Observatory was one of the institutions to which they could possible be sent for mission. A prerequisite for such a mission was their formation in the Society. Scholastics being assigned to the observatory came from different Provinces but some Scholastics from the Ateneo de Manila also worked part-time to the observatory. Listed below are some of the identified of the scholastics designated to the Manila Observatory. Also indicated were the years when some of them return to the observatory as well as the years of their death.
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1956 sculpture)
- Manila Observatory: A Stellar Legacy by Bamm Gabriana
- "Manila Observatory". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.