Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.
President, Vatican Observatory Foundation
I can't begin to describe how thrilled I am to be taking up this new position as President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation... but I am a little bit nervous, as well. After all, Father Al DiUlio had a tough enough act to follow when he took up the reins from Fr. George Coyne; now I have to follow up the two of them, intimidating enough for anyone!
As we all know, Father George did a spectacular job of founding the Foundation, raising the millions of dollars it took to build the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope and establishing an endowment to keep the telescopes operating. Father Al had the far less glamorous, but equally important, task of putting the board on a business-like footing and establishing a sustainable model for funding the Foundation's work.
Thus the foundation of the Foundation has been well set: we have our telescope, and we have our resources. The question facing us now is, what shall we build on this excellent foundation?
I keep recalling the mission that Pope Leo XIII first gave the Vatican Observatory in his Motu Proprio, the document that re-established the Observatory in 1891. The purpose for which we exist, he stated, was "that everyone might see clearly that the Church and her Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science ... but that they embrace it, encourage it, and promote it." For nearly 125 years, the Observatory has embraced good science. But the essential role that we at the Foundation can fulfill is to show that science to the general public, so that "everyone might see clearly" the work of the Vatican astronomers.
Already we're developing exciting plans to promote education and public outreach in astronomy -- working with Catholic high schools, running workshops for parish educators, engaging the large community of amateur astronomers.
But we at the Observatory can't do it by ourselves. We need the help of you, the true members of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. Of course, we need your financial support; without it, little is possible. But we also will be asking you for your ideas; and your time. But most of all, facing my new role, let me ask you for your prayers... that together, we may continue to give Glory to God, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
To see and hear more from Brother Guy click here to watch his recent TedX presentation.
Bio: Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, is a native of Detroit, Michigan, graduating from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1970. He studied planetary sciences at MIT (SB 1974, SM 1975) and the University of Arizona (PhD 1978), was a researcher at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps in Kenya, and taught physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989. Since 1993 he has served as an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and was curator of the Vatican meteorite collection until his appointment 2014 as president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. Dr. Consolmagno has been elected to the governing boards of a number of international scientific organizations, including the International Astronomical Union and the Meteoritical Society; in 2006 he served a year as the elected chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. In 2014 he won that Division's Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in education and public outreach. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of six popular astronomy books, most notably the best-selling Turn Left at Orion (with Dan M. Davis) and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (with Fr. Paul Mueller SJ).