Juan López de Velasco: 1530 - 1603

Juan López de Velasco, the reputed author of the Relaciones Geográficas and the Instructions for the Observation of the Eclipse is an example of the multifaceted scientist of the epoch. A trained mathematician, he also a wrote a manual on proper Spanish orthography and authored a chronicle on America, which in format and content antecedes the Relaciones.

Several manuscripts at El Escorial contain a diversity of Velasco's work, often recognized by his elegant handwriting style. Noteworthy among these is the Discourse on the Comet. This memorial, addressed to King Philip II, aims tho soothe the monarchs fear about the visit of this heavenly body.

The first cosmographer-chronist, I believe that in many ways Velasco's approach to science foreshadowed contemporary scientific visualization.

With the Relaciones Geográficas, Velasco sought to construct a database of information where written descriptions and facts, would correspond with visual equivalents. Evidence of this can be found in the questionnaire itself and the resulting responses. Specific questions are asked to determine the not only the physical and geographic aspects, but also the cultural landscape of the populations.