Why does the pope have an astronomer?

By staff writers
September 3, 2013

Scientist Guy Consolmagno SJ from the Vatican Observatory will give the first in an autumn series of talks at the Lauriston Jesuit Centre in Edinburgh On Saturday 14 September 2013.

Consolmagno will be addressing the questions: Why does the Vatican continue to have an observatory today? And what is the connection between religion and modern science?

For more than 100 years, the Vatican has supported an astronomical observatory, with a modern advanced technology telescope in the deserts of Arizona. Indeed, it has supported astronomers as far back as the 16th century reform of the calendar, making it one of the oldest scientific institutions in the world

The Catholic Church has been keen to repair its reputation in relation to science in recent years, following its run-in several centuries ago with Galileo, and Br Consolmagno is among those who have spoken out strongly against creationism – the anti-evolutionary religious outlook supported by Protestant fundamentalists among others.

Guy Consolmagno obtained his BA and MA degrees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, all in planetary science. After postdoctoral research and teaching at Harvard College Observatory and MIT, he taught astronomy and physics with the US Peace Corps, serving in Kenya for two years. He then took a position as Assistant Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, before applying to enter the Society of Jesus as a brother in 1989.

Since taking his vows in 1991, he has been an astronomer and curator of meteorites at the Vatican Observatory. He also writes a monthly column on astronomy for The Tablet, the respected UK-based Catholic weekly.

* The talk will take place at the Lauriston Jesuit Centre, Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ at 7.30pm on Saturday 14 September.

* Vatican Observatory: http://www.vaticanobservatory.org


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