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.