Monday, 14 December 2015

Out and About the Blogs: Brother Guy’s Star is Rising

Brother Guy’s Star is Rising

Catching up on my blog roll (blogs I follow), I see that Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ, a noted American research astronomer and previously curator of the Vatican Meteorite collection was appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory in September this year.

He is notable for espousing the need for religion and science to work hand in hand, and has said that “"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism – it's turning God into a nature god."

His research focuses on meteorites, asteroids and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.

On a more practical level, his book “Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them” which is nicely spiral bound (so you can easily keep it open on the right page) is still selling well, now in its 4th edition.

He was honored for his work by the International Astronomical Union in 2000 with the naming of an asteroid after him, the "4597 Consolmagno," a small, 12-mile-wide rock orbiting near the sun.

On July 2, 2014 he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public by the American Astronomical Society.

On September 18, 2015 he was named by Pope Francis to be the Director of the Vatican Observatory. The Pope said that “The church urgently needs religious who dedicate their lives to being on the very frontiers between faith and human knowledge, faith and modern science".

His books include “God's Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion”, “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican”, and “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: . . . and Other Questions from the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory”

On the last book, the U.S. Catholic says: “The title hardly captures what the book contains: a simultaneous apologia both for Christian faith in a scientific age and for Christian engagement with what science is telling us about the universe. No need to worry about it being dry: Wile E. Coyote appears many times, and the settings of this series of conversations between the authors range from the Art Institute of Chicago to Milliways, the fictional restaurant at the end of the universe in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

And lastly he is well known as a science fiction fan. His blog “about” notes:

“Planetary scientist and science fiction fan, in that order. Which is not my order. My order is Jesuit.”

And in his most recent blog, he says:

“A large part of our outreach has always been through public talks at churches, schools, universities, and conventions. In particular I think science fiction conventions are an ideal place for me. First of all, I’m a long time fan; I have some street cred with my fellow fans."

"And also, these are the places where you find lots of bright and curious folks who love to hear about astronomy, and place it in the human context… that, after all, is what makes science fiction special. The human context includes religion, in all its forms, organized and personal and everything in between.”

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