Eratosthenes Drawing Drama plus an Experiment opportunity for schools all over the planet
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On that cold evening back in 2007 Eratosthenes looked powerful in its position emerging into the suns warm rays. Rupes Recta was also inviting and Plato almost called me again. Even drenched in sunlight Plato’s steel grey floor carried those unmistakable flame shaped shadows. Eratosthenes is a truly dramatic crater, a sweeping mountain chain whips away from it in a visual series, of broken, deep shadows. Montes Appeninus is cut and chopped first by Mons Wolf, and then by Mons Ampere. Next in line, Christian Huygens name is lent to Mons Huygens named in honour of the discoverer of Saturn’s largest moon Titan . This high mountain (164,000ft) is a billion miles away from those primal methane or ethane seas discovered by the Cassini Huygens mission on one of its routine flybys. Mons Bradley and Mons Hadley cradle the Apollo 15 lunar landing area from 1971. A mission that put wheels on the moon for the first time. This wonderfully … Continue reading

Another blog about the blog
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I just finished up giving a three-day astronomy-themed retreat (well, Friday night to Sunday noon) at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos, California. We had about 70 people show up, all of them impressive and enthusiastic and fascinating to meet. I wish I could have spent five hours with each of them. And someone in the group was kind enough to advertise The Catholic Astronomer, so I hope some of you from that retreat have found yourself here. But that also reminded me that I do need to do some occasional advertising. At the moment, the number of people who are signed up to get free emails when a new article is posted is just under 500; it should be at 5000, I would think. Tell your friends and neighbors about this site! (And your classes.) And don’t forget to sign up yourself. And if you have the wherewithal, joining Sacred Space would let us keep funding this site … Continue reading

A small brag for one of our bloggers
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We are very happy to report that our blogger Chris Graney just got the finalized contract on a new book: The Mathematical Disquisitions of Locher and Scheiner: the ‘Booklet of Theses’ immortalized by Galileo (by C M Graney) is going to be published by the University of Notre Dame Press. All the writing and peer review is finished; it is currently in production and the Press is aiming to have it in print this fall. The book is his translation from Latin of Johann Georg Locher’s 1614 Disquisitiones Mathematicae.  Galileo devoted a fair bit of space in his 1632 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems to picking on this book of Locher’s. The original (Latin) version of Locher’s book is available on-line, with a thumbnails view also available. Note – lots and lots of pictures!  (That’s one reason to translate it. Another is that is short. And another is that Galileo talks about it a lot.) Chris tells me that he translated Locher with an eye for classroom … Continue reading

Apply Now for the January 2017 Faith & Astronomy Workshop!
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The annual Faith and Astronomy Workshop will be held next January 16 – 20, 2017, and applications are now open. What’s the FAW? Well… read on… What can modern astronomy tell us about creation – and its Creator? This four-day workshop, sponsored by the Vatican Observatory Foundation, is designed to bring those working in Catholic parishes an up-to-date overview of the universe: from the Big Bang, to the search for life in the universe, to our exploration of the planets… as seen through the eyes of the Jesuit priests and brothers who work at the Vatican’s own astronomical observatory. Our next workshop will be held the week of January 16-20, 2017, at the Redemptorist Renewal Center outside of Tucson, Arizona. Participants should plan to arrive on the afternoon of Monday, January 11; the work of the workshop begins that evening. Days and evenings are scheduled through Thursday. The workshop will end with Mass and breakfast on Friday morning, January 15. The workshop is designed for … Continue reading

Another begging note
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I hope you’ve had a chance to read the posts recently added by Deirdre Kelleghan. We’re delighted to add her to our roster; she brings to our site a wonderful talent both in astronomical drawing and in outreach to the public, especially school children. Her stories of how she reaches kids are both entertaining and full of good ideas that those of us who also do outreach can learn from. I first met her in Ireland in 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy celebrations, which included an exhibit of astronomical drawings at the incredible castle/observatory in Cork… As I have mentioned before, we pay our contributors. Not a lot, mind you; but something. The workman (or woman) is worth his/her wage. (I read that somewhere.) Furthermore, the whole work of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, the hosts for this site, depends on private donations from “people like you”. We’re incredibly grateful for all the support we’ve received. But… if you like … Continue reading

Active Region 2546
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Sketch of sunspot AR 2546 by Deirdre Kelleghan, May 15, 2016 1:25-2:30 UT. Sketch details 40mm PST, FL 400mm, 10mm eyepiece, 40X Pastels and Conte on black card. Bray Co Wicklow Ireland The image of the Sun below was taken at the same time as Deirdre’s sketch by cameras on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), an orbiting space telescope that watches the Sun continuously in multiple frequencies. -RJT AR2546 is very large, and the region has let off several C-class flares. Please Welcome our new Blogger: Deirdre Kelleghan! Deirdre is a well-known amateur astronomer in Ireland. She loves sketching astronomical objects, and doing astronomy outreach with children. -RJT. … Continue reading

Your once-a-month begging letter… Spread the word!
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(These monthly announcements seem to work, so I’ll do it again…) Please support this site, and spread the news! We regularly get 300-400 people reading this blog every day. I would love to get that up to a thousand. Please spread the word! We have a about 275 people who subscribe to the free email updates; I would love to see that number get up to 500. Please spread the word! This site does not run for free. I am a strong believer that good writers deserve to be paid, and even though we can’t afford much, we do pay our (non-Jesuit) contributors. We also pay an excellent IT person to keep the site up and running. The funds come from “supporters like you”, as PBS likes to remind us. (And, for this year at least, with help from the Templeton Foundation. But that grant will run out…) We hope that subscribers to this site will be moved to support the … Continue reading

Another reminder… support this site!
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Since my last “meta” posting like this, nearly a year ago, our site has grown wonderfully. We now have three hundred or more hits a day, double what we were doing a year ago, and some 225 people subscribe to the free emails that tell them when a new posting occurs. But this site does not run for free. I am a strong believer that good writers deserve to be paid, and even though we can’t afford much, we do pay our (non-Jesuit) contributors. We also pay an excellent IT person to keep the site up and running. The funds come from “supporters like you” as PBS likes to remind us. Plus, we hope that subscribers to this site will be moved to support the astronomy and outreach work of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. That means, please, if you can, consider joining our Sacred Space group. For just $10 a month you can help us do the work we do, … Continue reading

Kensington Astronomy at the Beach
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19th Annual Kensington Astronomy at the Beach Michigan’s Largest FREE Star Party and Astronomy Event! Friday AND Saturday September 25th and 26th, 2015 Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan [Web] [Facebook] [PDF Flyer] It’s difficult to say enough good things about Kensington Astronomy at the Beach; it is simply a must-attend event if you are anywhere in southeastern Michigan, or the Midwest – and it’s free! Put on each year by the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs, this event has everything for the astronomy enthusiast of all ages: Solar Telescopes: Arrive before sunset, and see the Sun (safely) through solar telescopes. Lecturers: This year is Dr. Nicolle Zellner, from Albion College will give the keynote address: Moons and Planets. A volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, Nicolle has spoken to the Warren Astronomical Society – and she’s fantastic!  Previous lecturers have included Astronomy Magazine editor David J. Eicher, and Shuttle astronaut Dr. Andrew Feustel. Telescopes: Everywhere. Astronomy Club Tables: GLAAC member clubs … Continue reading

Congratulations! Br. Guy Consolmagno Named Director of Vatican Observatory!
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On behalf of Katie Steinke, Development Director of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, and all of the contributors to “The Catholic Astronomer,” we would like to share this announcement: The Vatican Observatory staff celebrated the 80th Anniversary of their move to the Papal Summer Residence this week with a Symposium on their extensive fields of research. The week culminated with a private audience with Pope Francis this morning. As part of these festivities, Pope Francis appointed Br. Guy Consolmagno as Director of the Vatican Observatory. Fr. Jose’ Funes, previous Director, will be returning to his home, Argentina, to teach at the Universidad de Cordoba. We thank him for his many years of research and leadership and wish him all the very best in his new position. Congratulations to Br. Guy and Fr. Funes! Click here for the announcement and here to get all the details on the Pope’s audience! … Continue reading

“Exploring the Big Questions of the Universe…”
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Last spring, Now You Know Media released a set of lectures by me about Galileo. Well, the’ve done it again! The newest set of lectures are titled “Exploring the Big Questions of the Cosmos with a Vatican Scientist”… and my friends at Now You Know tell me that it’s already become the best new seller of their catalog for the last 12 months. (Which means, I guess, that it’s now outselling my Galileo series; how dare I outsell myself!) I recorded these lectures in June, at a time that was particularly hectic for me: I was speaking in Canada, attending my province’s Congregation in Baltimore, and doing who knows what else. As a result, I have no memory of what I actually said in any of these talks. Who knows what odd comments and bad puns I came up with? In any event, here’s a table of contents: Does Science Need God? Scripture or Science? Is the Big Bang Compatible with a Creator … Continue reading