Fan Mail Poetry
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I get fan mail now and then; but this one included a poem, which I thought I would share, just for the fun of it!
Dr. Will Buckingham is a reader in Writing and Creativity at De Montfort University, in Leicester, England, adjacent to the River Soar. He's the author of a number of books, both academic and fiction, including children's books.
He included this note: "I was rummaging through some old boxes prior to moving house, and I stumbled across a bunch of notebooks from something like ten years back. Leafing through, I found a short poem that I’d written having seen you talk at the science museum in Birmingham. A few days after the talk, if I remember rightly, I was teaching a writing class, and I was encouraging my students to write sonnets, so I weighed in and produced the attached poem. The title is 'The Pope’s Astronomer’’. I’m more of a fiction/philosophy writer than a poet, but it was fun to write."
With his permission, here's the sonnet:
Orion captured through the slit of the Visuale telescope at Castel Gandolfo. Credit: Alfredo Matacotta

Orion captured through the slit of the Visuale telescope at Castel Gandolfo. Credit: Alfredo Matacotta

The Pope's Astonomer

The Pope's astronomer climbs up the stair,
  of the observatory upon the hill
  above the Vatican; he says, "It's fair
and warm tonight. The clouds are gone. I will

align my telescope with distant stars
  and contemplate the greatness of the One
who forged this curious universe of ours,
  that vast abyss of emptiness, these suns!"

"Of course," — he checks himself — "it's hardly proof
  of Christian faith. Saint Anselm put it best:
from faith comes understanding of the truth
  and not vice versa. Thus I must confess:

these endless nights spend gazing at the sky
  might tell us how, but may not tell us why."
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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