As the winter holiday season nears, we wanted to give you and update on what we’ve accomplished in 2019!
The fall is always a busy time at the Vatican Observatory, as we look back on the year to prepare our Annual Report. (You can find previous years’ annual reports online here.)

I’m busy pulling all the details together from everyone, and I’ll give a glimpse below of some of the exiting thing’s we’ve been able to accomplish this year, thanks to your ongoing support of our work through the Vatican Observatory Foundation. 
Thank you for being a part of the VOF community!
Get Your 2020 Vatican Observatory Calendar!
The Vatican Observatory calendars have been a tradition for more than a decade.

Each month we feature a beautiful photograph of the heavens, donated to us for our use by some of the best amateur astrophotographers in the world!
Pope Francis got the first 2020 calendar to be distributed to our fans!
Dec. 3, 2019
"GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on December 3, 2019 and every day.

It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We've created a directory to help you find organizations, events, and ways to give back in your own community." -
In our meeting with Pope Francis this year we presented His Holiness with our first 2020 calendar, and Father Paul Gabor SJ told him that we donate 300 calendars to incarcerated prisoners each year. The Pope was pleased that we promised to continue this outreach. The prisoners themselves have told us how much they appreciate this; our photos are a window to a world they cannot see. 
But at $25 per calendar, giving away 300 calendars means that we are giving up $7,500 in potential donations. Your contributions can help us recover this cost!  All donations to the Vatican Observatory Foundation through our Giving Tuesday campaign will be used to support our prison outreach.
Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope Update
In September, the Vatican Observatory headquarte rs in the Papal Summer Gardens of Castel Gandolfo hosted the first full team meeting for the VATT-PEPSI-TESS su rvey teams. This is the international group who are using one of the world’s most advanced spectrometers to characterize stars with extrasolar planets. The instrument is housed in the dome of our big neighbor on Mt. Graham, the  Large Binocular Telescope , where it analyzes light fed to it from the VATT via a fibre optic cable.
Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (left), Large Binocular Telescope (right).
Several upgrade projects at the VATT included a major upgrade of the “guider box” that connects the electronic camera to the telescope and holds the filters and the secondary camera which lets us precisely guide the telescope on a nearby star. Other upgrades this year included the commissioning of the Mount Control Unit and TCS-NG, the primary mirror position monitoring system, and the automated collimation and collimation maintenance procedure. These are all necessary elements to making the telescope usable remotely, by observers back in Tucson.
Meanwhile, at the telescope itself, Chris Corbally supported Eric Craine ( Western Research Company) and Roy Tucker ( Goodricke-Pigott Observatory) in obtaining short cadence spectra of the variable object currently known as MG1-xyz432. This has extensive photometric documentation of its energetic outbursts, but just whether these are caused by a single or multiple star system has not been clear. The VATT spectroscopic data are contributing towards a defensible model for the outburst activity.
In October, a paper by Fr. Alessandro Omizzolo and his collaborator Daniela Bettoni, "Faint Dwarf galaxies in nearby WINGS clusters: photometric characterization In the cores of galaxy clusters” was published in  Dwarf Galaxies: From the Deep Universe to the Present , Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, IAU Symposium, Volume 344. They present the photometric and morphological characterization of a population of dwarf Early-type galaxies, ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs) and ultra diffuse dwarf galaxies.
A paper by Bob Macke, Guy Consolmagno, and their Jesuit college Cy Opeil at Boston College, " Heat capacities of ordinary chondrite falls as a function of temperature below 300 K," has recently been published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences.
Gabriele Gionti attended a conference on  Quantum Gravity and Matter in Heidelberg, Germany, in September, where he presented the paper, “Some aspects of improved gravitational action through Brans-Dicke theory”.
Margaret Boone Rappaport and Chris Corbally have completed their new book, The Emergence of Religion in Human Evolution, which will be published as a part of the Routledge Press series, Studies in Neurotheology, Cognitive Science and Religion.
Visit our Websites
Incorporating the Catholic Astronomer, our blog has several authors writing about a wide range of faith and science related topics.
Our Faith and Science archive has hundreds of articles, videos, and audio files on the topic of Faith and Science, for the use of Catholic educators and Catholics seeking education - produced by members of the Vatican Observatory with the support of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.
Popular Posts on Sacred Space Astronomy
Fr. James Kursynski - Mar. 28, 2016

One of the basic questions of science has a rather surprising answer: Who was the first scientist to put forward the Big Bang Theory? Most would presume that it was either Albert Einstein or Edwin Hubble. Instead, the correct answer is a Diocesan Priest from Belgium by the name of Monsignor Georges Lemaitre. 

The "popular" narrative of the day is that faith and science are irreconcilable foes that are locked in a constant battle with one another. Ignored are examples like Monsignor Lemaitre who, in his very person, represents a living example of why the popular narrative is in error.
Christopher M. Graney - Oct. 5, 2019

Visit the Vatican Observatory Faith and Science pages and you might come upon information about Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), who saw the hand of God in things that make many people’s skin crawl. In an introduction to one of her books she writes: "Ever since my youth I have been engaged in the examination of insects. I began with silkworms in my native city of Frankfurt, but then, noticing that much more beautiful butterflies, both nocturnal and diurnal, emerged from caterpillars, I was moved to gather together all the caterpillars I could find and to make observations of their metamorphoses."
Errors Published for Children - Christopher M. Graney - Nov. 9, 2019
Free Man in Paris… Diary of 12 November, 2019 - Br. Guy Consolmagno - Nov. 12, 2019
In the Sky This Week – November 12, 2019 - Bob Trembley - Nov. 12, 2019
Faith and Science Archive Picks
Isaac Newton – God and the Universe in the Principia Mathematica
Isaac Newton is arguably the most important scientist of all. His Principia Mathematica (written in Latin), in which he develops a physics of the solar system to compete with the “vortex theory” of René Descartes, is arguably his most important work, for it developed the physics still taught in classrooms and used in science and engineering today. Newton sees in this physics and in the solar system the action of God.
Emilie Du Châtelet on the existence of God
Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise Du Châtelet, wrote, among other things, a translation and commentary on Isaac Newton’s Principia (published posthumously in 1759), and a physics textbook for her son, entitled Institutions de Physique (Foundations of Physics, published in 1740). The second chapter of this textbook was addressed to the question of God’s existence.
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