Guy Consolmagno, chief astronomer at the Vatican

Brother Guy Consolmagno is the director of the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Raised in Detroit, Michigan, he studied Earth and Planetary Sciences at MIT for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and at the University of Arizona for his doctorate.

During a break in his studies he spent two years teaching astronomy in Nairobi for the Peace Corps. Having attended a Jesuit high school, Consolmagno contemplated joining the church at several points in his career before joining the order in 1989.

Two years later, he was called to serve at the Vatican Observatory where he has been ever since. Consolmagno’s research has always focused on the smallest bodies in our solar system and his work at the Vatican has allowed him to make significant contributions to this field over the past several decades.

In 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for outstanding communication of planetary science to the public.

You can keep up with Consolmagno’s thoughts on work and life at the Vatican Observatory by reading his blog, following him on Twitter, and watching his TEDx talk.

I recently chatted with Brother Guy about his life in science and the church and what he’s learned from moving between the two.

How did you get interested in science? Where it something that was always there?

I’m a Baby Boomer kid. I was in kindergarten when Sputnik went up and I was a senior in high school when we landed on the Moon. We just grew up with all that. You have to have been there to know how intense the whole focus on science and school kids was. Added to that, I had a lot of support from my parents, especially, my dad.

I had been very close with my dad all of my life. I’m the youngest of three and he’s 98 and going strong. He was an early adapter in computers, so we chat over Skype or Facetime all the time. Continue reading


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