Vatican Astronomer Guy Consolmagno to Speak

News Story: December 21, 2007

On December 4, Sacred Heart University will sponsor a lecture by Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, a Vatican astronomer who explores connections between meteorites, asteroids and the origin and evolution of small solar system bodies.

The lecture, titled “God’s Mechanics,” will be held in the University Commons at 4:00 p.m. The public is welcome, and admission is free of charge.

The discussion’s title and topics are borrowed from Br. Consolmagno’s most recent book, God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion (Jossey-Bass), which was released on October 19.

According to the publisher, the book “tells the stories of those who identify with the scientific mindset—so-called ‘techies’—while practicing religion. [Br. Consolmagno] relates some classic philosophical reflections, his interviews with dozens of fellow techies, and his own personal take on his Catholic beliefs to provide the hard data on the challenges and joys of embracing a life of faith as a techie.”

“It’s like a set of worked-out sample problems” he says.

Br. Consolmagno earned a Master of Science degree in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978 to ’80, he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory. In 1993 he was assigned to the Vatican Observatory, where he serves as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection, one of the largest in the world.

In addition to God’s Mechanics, Br. Consolmagno has written four other books: a popular telescope guide, Turn Left at Orion (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1995); a planetary sciences textbook, Worlds Apart (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993); a book describing modern physics for a church-going layperson, The Way to the Dwelling of Light (University of Notre Dame Press, 1998); and Brother Astronomer, Adventures of a Vatican Scientist (McGraw Hill, 2000).

Br. Consolmagno, who has also studied philosophy and theology, divides his time between Tucson, Arizona, and Italy, observing asteroids and Kuiper Belt comets with the Vatican’s 1.8-meter telescope.

An engaging speaker, Br. Consolmagno last appeared at SHU in March 2007.