To see more images of comet C/2020 (NEOWISE) by Fr. James Kurzynski, see Fr. James post: Sleepless in Wisconsin: My Comet Neowise Images
Fr. Coyne was named director of the Vatican Observatory at the age of 45 — notably he was one of the few appointments made during the brief papacy of John Paul I — after the unexpected death of his predecessor. He served until he was 73, the longest term of any Observatory director.
During his tenure as Observatory director, Fr Coyne oversaw the modernization of the Observatory’s role in the world of science. He essentially re-founded the Specola Vaticana.
With the passing of George Coyne, an era at the Specola Vaticana has come to a close. He was a remarkable astronomer, a remarkable director, a remarkable Jesuit, a remarkable man.
Visit the Fr. Coyne Memorial Fundraiser site: [LINK]
Read the tribute to Fr. Coyne in the Vatican Observatory site: [LINK]
Read Br. Guy’s post about Fr. Coyne on the Sacred Space Astronomy site: [LINK]
Every year the Vatican Observatory Foundation sponsors a seminar on advances in astronomy, open to the general public. The 2020 annual seminar was held on Friday, February 21, 2:00 PM at St. Peter and Paul Parish, at Gramer Hall, Tucson, Arizona.
The EDEN project and the VATT
Dr. Daniel Apai – Associate Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona
The EDEN Project and the VATT: Dr. Danial Apai of the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory is heading up an exciting program to search for Earth-like planets: Exoearth Discover and Exploration Network. EDEN is a research project aiming to lead and support research to identify and characterize habitable planets within 50 lightyears. And the VATT will be central to its work.
Jesuits and Science
Round table with members of the Vatican Observatory Jesuit Community.
How is being a Jesuit scientist different from being just a scientist, or just a Jesuit? What are the challenges, joys, and surprises that come from this life? We’ll present a round table discussion with members of the Vatican Observatory Jesuit Community, led by observatory director Br Guy Consolmagno. Frs. Paul Gabor and Chris Corbally, astronomers working with the VATT and the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, will be joined by a young graduate student in atmospheric sciences and meteorology, Fr. Bayu Risanto SJ, from Indonesia.
Keynote: The Latest News from Asteroid Bennu
Dolores Hill – Research Specialist, Senior Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies, University of Arizona
Dolores Hill, a meteorite specialist at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab, is now also a public outreach specialist with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu operated by LPL. The goal of OSIRIS-REx is to collect a sample of Bennu in mid-2020, and return it to Earth in late 2023. Bennu turned out to be rockier than anticipated, but mission planners have now identified four sites on its surface that are smooth enough for OSIRIS-REx to collect a sample. Dolores will fill us in on the latest news about the sites chosen to be sampled, and what we’ve learned so far about this fascinating little neighbor of ours in space.
UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 VOSS has been postponed until the summer of 2021.
Every two years, the Vatican Observatory Summer School program offers 25 international students the opportunity to study astrophysics at Castel Gandolfo, Italy with the most notable astronomers of their age – drawn from leading observatories and universities around the world.
To date, over 400 young astronomers have passed through these schools; they have gone on to work at the most prestigious institutions in the world, like the Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, the European Southern Observatory, and leading astronomy programs at universities including Arizona, Caltech, Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, and Yale.
Every school centers on a particular topic in cutting edge astrophysics – the 2020 Summer School will focus on the dynamic environment in the centres of galaxies. For four weeks the students will have morning classes given by our world class faculty, afternoon research projects, and special evening lectures given by visiting scholars.
Among these instructors have been Dr. Vera Rubin, winner of the 2002 Gruber Cosmology Prize for her discovery of dark energy; Frank Shu, later president of the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan; Michael A’Hearn, the Principal Investigator of the NASA Deep Impact space mission to Comet 9P/Temple; and Didier Queloz, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in discovering the first exoplanets!
In addition to their lectures, one weekend is spent in Florence with a visit to Galileo’s home, while day trips from Castel Gandolfo range from tours of ancient historical sites to a day at the beach – and of course, Rome itself! All schools include a tour of the Vatican, and most have featured a private audience with the Pope.
A majority of the Summer School students selected come from underdeveloped countries. Tuition is free, and significant financial support ensures that every student accepted is able to attend.
Starting in 2020, these schools will be funded entirely by private donations through the Vatican Observatory Foundation.
An article by Vatican Observatory director Br. Guy Consolmagno was featured on the BBC’s Sky at Night on Nov. 22, 2019. In the article, Br. Guy reveals his top 12 targets to observe in the night sky this Christmas!
The full article on Sky at Night includes images and comments for each object, and equipment needed to view them.
In this video, students from the 2018 Vatican Observatory Summer School discuss how excited they are to participate in the program. Br. Guy Consolmagno explains how the VOSS got started, and how wonderful it is to have so many exceptional students attend the summer school program.
VATT @ XXV (1993-2018)
The VOSS 2018 will train the next generation of researchers on the marvels of big data, time domain astrophysics, and variability surveys. We are building an exciting programme that links variable stars with photometric and spectroscopic surveys, and then gives an overview concerning the impact that stellar astrophysics has on current astrophysical and cosmological open problems.
- Theory of stellar pulsation and evolution: pulsation and evolutionary properties of radial variables (RR Lyrae; classical, type II, anomalous Cepheids; SX Phoenicis).
- Stellar kinematics: radial velocities and proper motions.
- Variable star searches in large databases: Current statistics, sample biases, variability detection, period search techniques, variable star classification,
- Variables as stellar population tracers: pulsating stars vs eclipsing binaries. Distance indicators (RR Lyse, Cepheids, Miras and LPVs), Rare variability: Microlensing and Transients.
- Current and future large astronomical databases: 2MASS, Gaia, VVV, OGLE, Kepler, GLIMPSE, WISE, WFIRST, LSST, SDSS, TESS, PLATO, EUCLID, PS2.
Twenty-three students representing 19 countries and the faculty of the 2016 Vatican Observatory Summer School meet and greet Pope Francis while studying Water in the Universe.