Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist

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9780071372312: Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist

People are often surprised to hear that the Vatican supports an astronomical observatory; yet, in its historical roots and traditions the Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical institutes in the world. With observatories at both the Papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and Tucson, Arizona, the Specola Vaticana - its telescopes, laboratories, libraries and research centres - is staffed by Jesuit astronomers who advance the Vatican's knowledge of the sciences. Of the Pope's seven-man team of research astronomers, Brother Guy Consolmagno specialized in small solar-system objects, and is the curator of the Vatican's valuable collection of meteorites. In "Brother Astronomer", Consolmagno tells the story of his life as a Papal astronomer - from his adventures hunting meteorites in the Antarctic to the quiet contemplation of his daily bread. Consolmagno presents a history of the relationship between the Vatican and astronomy - from the infamous condemnation of Galileo, to its present research with the optical-infrared Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT).

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From the Back Cover:

Praise for BROTHER ASTRONOMER:

"Congenially conveying both meaty science and meaty theology, Consolmagno contributes vitally to the rapprochement of science and faith." - Booklist

"Consolmagno spills the contagious cheer of a man happily married to two loves - religion and science." - The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Deft writing" - Library Journal

"Memorable" - Natural History Magazine

Brother Astronomer is a wonderful contribution to the ongoing science-and-religion debate, from someone living in both worlds. Blending memoir, science, history, and theology, Brother Guy takes readers on a grand adventure. Revisit the infamous "Galileo affair" and discover the circumstances and misconceptions of the times that influenced what really happened. Glimpse into a world of working scientists and see how scientific discoveries are proposed and advanced. Learn the inside story of the "Mars meteorite": how can we be sure it's really from Mars, and why can't scientists agree on whether or not it contains evidence of life? Through Brother Guy's recollections, science and religion fuse together in one individual, and by extension, explain how they both are needed in order to answer the big questions: What would it mean to us if we did find life elsewhere in the universe? How did the world begin, and does it follow natural laws?

About the Author:

Brother Guy Consolmagno is an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory. He obtained his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona and went on to teach at MIT until 1983 when he joined the Peace Corps. After two years of teaching university and high-school physics in Kenya, he returned to the U.S. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and since then has studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University, Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago. He has also spent several terms as a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and as a visiting professor at Loyola College, Baltimore, and Loyola University, Chicago, His area of expertise is in the study of small solar-system objects, such as moons, asteroids, and meteors. At the Vatican, he serves as curator of one of the largest meteorite collections in the world. Consolmagno's writing has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Sky & Telescope, Leonardo, Jesuits in Science, Ad Astra.

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