Br Guy’s Diary: December 31, 2014

My plan is to post regular updates, about once a week I hope, on my current work and the doings at the Vatican Observatory. This might give the members of our Sacred Space an idea of what our day to day life is like. Let me know if you enjoy these entries!
This week: revising Vesta, talking Galileo, and voyages near and far.

Science: The science on my agenda this month is to resubmit our paper on Vesta. For the past couple of years I have been working with a team of scientists in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Russia and Japan to look over the likely internal structure of asteroid 4 Vesta in light of the new data we have gotten from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Our paper was written up and submitted in early September; the editors of the journal we sent it to, Icarus, passed it out to a couple of other scientists who checked it over for errors and other issues; we got their report in November. But since then I've been so busy with other things that I hadn't had a chance to get back to it until last week. I made the corrections – as first author, it's up to me to do that work – and I've passed it back to my co-authors for their comments. The hope is to get the final version back to the journal by the end of next week.

Galileo: Last September, while in Washington DC, I met with Michael Bloom, who runs an outfit called Now You Know media, Catholic-oriented audio and video courses. He asked me to do a course of Galileo… twelve 25 minute lectures. So on Sunday evening I flew out to their studios outside of DC, and spent Monday and Tuesday in front of a camera. Now it is up to them to edit out all my "er's" and "ah's" and add pretty pictures. I can't wait to see what I said.

Community: Meanwhile, it's been a busy time here at our community at the Vatican Observatory in Tucson. Brother Tom has been in the hospital since just before Christmas, for scheduled back surgery; he's recovering nicely and we hope he'll be home by early next week. Fr. Jean-Baptiste is off, as of Tuesday, to visit his family back in the Congo. Fr. Paul G. has been hosting his father over Christmas; they leave on Thursday to return home to Slovakia. Fr. Rich spent Christmas on the mountain, observing with our telescope, the VATT. And of course I was in DC, and back. Only Fr. Chris has been here full time, holding the fort for the rest of us!

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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