Pope Francis on Friday named Brother Guy Joseph Consolmagno, SJ as the new director of the Vatican Observatory. Jesuit Br Consolmagno is the current President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, as well as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world.
His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.
Br Guy Consolmagno SJ was born in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1974 and Master of Science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978-80 he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory, and from 1980-1983 continued as postdoc and lecturer at MIT.
In 1983 he left MIT to join the US Peace Corps, where he served for two years in Kenya teaching physics and astronomy. Upon his return to the US in 1985 he became an assistant professor of physics at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught until his entry into the Jesuit order in 1989. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.
In spring 2000 he held the MacLean Chair for Visiting Jesuit Scholars at St Joseph's University, Philadelphia, and in 2006-2007 held the Loyola Chair at Fordham University, New York. He has also been a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and a visiting professor at Loyola College, Baltimore, and Loyola University, Chicago.
Br. Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 - present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007).
He has coauthored five astronomy books: "Turn Left at Orion" (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1989); "Worlds Apart" (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993); "The Way to the Dwelling of Light" (U of Notre Dame Press, 1998); "Brother Astronomer" (McGraw Hill, 2000); and "God's Mechanics" (Jossey-Bass, 2007). He also edited "The Heavens Proclaim" (Vatican Observatory Publications, 2009).
Br Consolmagno is curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world. His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with an NSF-sponsored team on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honored by the IAU for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno.
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