Biography of Dionisio Alcalá Galiano (1762-1805)

Dionisio Alcalá-Galiano. Naval Museum. Madrid.

Spanish navigator, born in Cabra (Córdoba) in 1762, and died at Trafalgar in 1805. Occupied square as Guard Navy in 1777 and took part in the war against England in 1779 as a naval officer. In 1784 he/she participated in hydrographic Vicente Tofiñoproject, and the following year he/she was assigned to Antonio de Córdoba expedition to the Strait of Magellan. In 1788 he/she collaborated again with Tofino on a cartographic expedition to the Azores, and in 1789 he/she embarked for South America with Alejandro Malaspina. On September 20, 1789, Alcalá Galiano and Felipe Bauzá established an Observatory in Montevideo to study the passage of mercury ahead of the Sun. Alcalá Galiano wrote in his diary: "for day 5 [of November] hope the passage of mercury over the disc of the Sun, who have calculated latitude and heliocentric lengths, using mercury 9 tables of Monsieur [Joseph] de la Lande, as by nicety is calculating;" We do not find chords our results with the knowledge of times of nautical Almanak, but are sure used in our calculations have the greatest prolixidad." The news of this failure according to the Almanac was applied by Urbain Le Verrier in his Recherches sur l´orbite de Mercure (Paris, 1843) to determine the numerical value of the anomaly to the secular displacement of the perihelion of the planet. Alcalá Galiano also made obeservaciones of the eclipse (DIP) of the second satellite of Jupiter.

He was recognized as one of the most innovative of their time sailors. According to José Mendoza y Ríos, in the voyage of the "Santa María de la Cabeza" through the Strait of Magellan, he/she used the reflection of Jean-Charles de Borda circle to clearing the lunar distance. A contemporary said that Alcalá Galiano "was first proposed in our times, and met with accuracy, the problem of finding the latitude through the polar height, observed at one distance of any of the Meridian". Mendoza published Galiano solution in the edition of 1809 from their tables.

In 1791, Alcalá Galiano was in Mexico, where he/she made observations of latitude for southern heights of the Sun and various stars, also determining some lengths. All these observations wrote two memoirs: report on the calculation of the latitude of the place by the two heights of the Sun (Madrid, 1795) and memory on observations of latitude and longitude in the Sea (Madrid, 1796).

He also explored together with Cayetano Valdés the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to check whether there was a passage joining the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic and left a relationship of the journey made by the schooners «Subtle» and «Mexican» to recognize the Strait de Fuca, where you insert a vocabulary of the language of the inhabitants of Nootka and with an introduction that is given news of executadas previously by the Spanish expeditions in search of the Northwest Passage of America. After this mission he/she returned to the Peninsula, and being already in the country wrote to José Espinosa and Tello to promote the realization of a topographic map of Spain, but the project failed due to the fact that all who had been associated with Malaspina fell under suspicion when the latter was imprisoned. He/She returned you spell to his naval duties, and he/she died at the battle of Trafalgar.



Report on observations of latitude and longitude in the sea, Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1796.


Salva, j.: Alcalá Galiano, Madrid: IMP. Marine tank, 1948.guillen, J. F.: "A remark transcendental in Montevideo (1789)", in Revista General de Marina, 159, 1960, pp. 529-535.fernandez DE NAVARRETE, M.: Spanish maritime library, vol. I, Madrid: widow of Calero, 1851, pp. 367-373.