The Astronomic and Geophysical Institute was originated from the Geographical and Geological Committee of São Paulo State, by Provincial Law #9, dated March 1886, and headed by American geologist Orville A. Derby.
Among this Committee’s sections, the Botany and Meteorology, headed by Prof. Alberto Loefgren, was undoubtedly the embryo for the Weather Service of São Paulo.
More specifically, we can consider as the origin of IAG the Board of Directors of the Meteorological and Astronomical Service of São Paulo State, created by State Law #2261, dated December 31, 1927, and its director Alypio Leme de Oliveira. The Article 1 of Law #2261 in its Sole Paragraph established the Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory, located at 69 Paulista Avenue, São Paulo City, as the Board of Directors’ headquarter.
Better known as Observatory of São Paulo, the Observatory was built in the first decade of the 20th century by José Nunes Belfort de Mattos, then director of Weather Service of São Paulo State, and inaugurated in 1912.
Besides headquartering the Board of Directors of the Meteorological and Astronomical Service of São Paulo State, the Observatory of São Paulo carried out services of determining and disseminating the state official time, making use of the processes available at that time. Furthermore, the Board has provided for studies on Solar Physics (sunspots), Earth Magnetism, and Seismology, for which were destined two Wichert pendulums.
São Paulo City grew, and the place that was once considered ideal back in 1912 no longer met the adequate condition for regular astronomical or seismological observations by 1928, mainly due to the tremor produced by trams already everywhere on Paulista Avenue. It was then imperative to choose another and more appropriate place for a new observatory. After several places were considered, the Ipiranga Springs State Park (Água Funda district) was thought to be the one that best met the required conditions for the observatory, and where the IAG headquarter stayed until early 21st century.
The new Observatory project was designed by Alypio Leme de Oliveira and concluded in 1930. In the same year, for political reasons, the Board of Directors of the Meteorological and Astronomical Service of São Paulo State became subordinated to the School of Engineering of São Paulo, by the name of Astronomical and Geophysical Institute, keeping its purposes and directors.
In December 1931, the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute was reintegrated into the Bureau of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce, where it had been earlier as Board of the Meteorological and Astronomical Service of SP State, and, then, together with the Geographical and Geological Service of the former Geographical and Geological Committee, a single institute was formed: the Astronomical and Geographical Institute, created by State Decree #5320, dated December 30, 1931, with Alypio Leme the Oliveira remaining as director. The project of the new observatory was continued, and on February 24, 1932, the cornerstone was laid in the State Park by federal intervenor Col. Manoel Rabello. On December 22, 1932, the Meteorological Station of the Astronomical and Geographical Institute, at the State Park, was inaugurated.
The Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo) was created by State Decree #6283, dated January 25, 1934, by federal Intervenor Armando Salles de Oliveira and had its statutes regulated by State Decree #6533, dated July 4, 1934. The Astronomical and Geographical Institute became Additional Institute of the University of São Paulo, and its administrative office was subordinated to the Bureau of Industry and Commerce and at the University Council’s discretion to provide it with scientific and technical orientation so as to render the expected services.
Connecting the Institute to the University was most desired by director Alypio Leme de Oliveira, who even before this formalization had proposed the creation of a School of Geographers to train geographer engineers whose curriculum would comprehend subjects in the areas of:
Under this proposal, the Institute would be a teaching unit of USP and the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute would be the School of Geographers’ laboratory. The project did not pass; however, the idea of a higher-education course connected to Astronomy, Geophysics, and Meteorology came back later in 1938 in the shape of a new project to create the School of Astronomy and Geophysics, with the same curriculum as the School of Geographers, awarding the same professional title of Geographer Engineer. This project did not pass either.
The Astronomical and Geographical Institute was closed by State Decree #7309, dated July 5, 1935. Two organizations were created: the Geographical and Geological Department, and the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute, both remaining at the Bureau of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce. The Geographical and Geological Department was in charge of the Meteorological Network of SP State and the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute kept its Meteorological Station for the purpose of research.
The new Astronomical Observatory, in the Ipiranga Springs State Park, was inaugurated on April 24, 1941, by federal intervenor for São Paulo Dr. Adhemar Pereira de Barros, and became the headquarter of the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute.
In 1946, the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute was definitely incorporated into USP by State Decree #16622, dated December 30, 1946, keeping the same denomination and purpose, becoming one of its Annex Institutes with Alypio Leme Oliveira as director till 1955, when he retired and was replaced by Prof. Abrahão de Moraes, who remained in office till 1970, when he died.
Once again, with the development of SP City and its climatological characteristics, it was decided still under Prof. Moraes’s management that a new observatory should be built outside the City. And the place chosen was Morro dos Macacos (free translation, Hill of the Monkeys) in the town of Valinhos (SP). The Observatory, named after Prof. Abrahão de Moraes, was inaugurated on April 19, 1972.
After Prof. Moraes died, an Administrative Council for the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute was created by General Decree #1424, dated March 17, 1971, gathering Professor Paulo Benevides Soares, Giorgio E. O. Giacaglia, and Waldyr Muniz Oliva, and as substitute Professor José Luiz de Almeida Nogueira Junqueira Filho.
By State Decree #52907, dated March 27, 1972, the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute was transformed into an USP research unit. By General Decree #1809, dated May 26, 1972, departmentalization of the institute was established, leading to the creation of departments of Astronomy, Geophysics, and Meteorology. The name Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas (Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics, and Atmospheric Sciences) was adopted in 2001.
In 1973, the Astronomical and Geophysical Institute settled an agreement with the Physics Institute of USP and sought to implement modalities for the BS Course in Physics, including optional subjects in its curriculum of Astronomy, Geophysics, and Meteorology areas.
In 1977, a BS Course in Meteorology was started with 20 admissions per year and 8-semester length, recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture by Decree #409, dated October 19, 1982. In 1984 the BS Course in Geophysics was started with 20 admissions per year and 8-semester length, recognized by the same ministry by Decree #326, dated May 18, 1989, whereas the BS Course in Astronomy was started only in 2009.
The Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas (Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics, and Atmospheric Sciences) also offers Graduate School for Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Astronomy, Geophysics, and Meteorology; moreover, the Professional Master’s Program in Astronomy Education was created in 2013.