Br Guy Diary: February 22, 2015

This week has been a week of travel, with a bit of science and a lot of outreach. I experience a blizzard in Boston and warm, dry days in California; talked about Vesta and ET's; and met some alpacas...

I arrived in Boston for the Boskone SF convention just before the snow. I also got a morning's work in, speaking with Cy Opeil at Boston College. He has a lab set up that we're collaborating with to measure meteorite thermal and physical properties at temperatures down to near absolute zero. The convention was a whirlwind – and that was just the blizzard outside! I actually never left the hotel, given the weather, which meant I stayed warmer than I usually do at that convention.

Monday my flight left on time, and so by Monday evening I was in Merced, California, where over the next three days I gave four presentations at the University of California Merced. Great students, great conversations. I've been speaking to their Core I classes for seven years now; one feature of those talks is having dinner with the students and getting to know them. Sharp kids, from a fascinating variety of backgrounds.

Friday I was in Silicon Valley, speaking about Vesta (and talking meteorite physics) at the NASA Ames Research Center. Then I caught the train to Oakland, where I was met by my old Peace Corps buddy Alison Lindquist, who is now the president of the local SPCA. I got to meet a couple of her friends:


Alison and buddy

Alison and buddy

Then she drove me up to the Chabot Science Center for a talk about ET.

The next day I had brunch with an old grad school friend, Cliff Stoll (and his wife Pat), and another Peace Corps buddy, Brooke Smith. Then Cliff drove me back to the Valley to speak to the Merton Society, followed by dinner with Mertonites Mary and Jim and Judy and Judy (again) and...

Tomorrow I head back to Tucson. Nothing on the schedule, except for our big annual meeting on Friday!

I leave this diary with one other wonderful science bit. Father Rich Boyle was on the telescope and got some great images of Comet Lovejoy, which he turned into a little movie clip. Click on this link to see it:


It's a great illustration of how the ion tail has nothing to do with the direction that the comet moves!

Br. Guy Consolmagno

About Br. Guy Consolmagno

Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ is Director of the the Vatican Observatory and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he earned undergraduate and masters' degrees from MIT, and a Ph. D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona; he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and taught university physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989.

At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, his research explores connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies, observing Kuiper Belt comets with the Vatican's 1.8 meter telescope in Arizona, and applying his measure of meteorite physical properties to understanding asteroid origins and structure. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of a number of popular books including Turn Left at Orion (with Dan Davis), and most recently Would You Baptize an Extraterrestial? (with Father Paul Mueller, SJ). He also has hosted science programs for BBC Radio 4, been interviewed in numerous documentary films, appeared on The Colbert Report, and for more than ten years he has written a monthly science column for the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet.

Dr. Consolmagno's work has taken him to every continent on Earth; for example, in 1996 he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with a NASA team on the blue ice regions of East Antarctica. He has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (of which he was chair in 2006-2007); and IAU Commission 16 (Planets and Satellites). In 2000, the small bodies nomenclature committee of the IAU named an asteroid, 4597 Consolmagno, in recognition of his work. In 2014 he received the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences for excellence in public communication in planetary sciences.

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