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Vatican astronomer and planetary scientist to lecture on Wed., Feb. 26

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D.
Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D.
2/21/2014 —

Penn State Hazleton’s Faculty Lectures and Events Committee will host Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D., an American research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory, for a lecture on “Discarded Worlds: Astronomical ideas that were almost correct.”

The lecture, free and open to the public, is scheduled for at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26 in 115 Evelyn Graham Academic Building at Penn State Hazleton.

According to Brother Consolmagno, he will explore how astronomy is more than just observing; it's making sense of those observations. He explains, “A good theorist needs a good imagination... and no fear of being wrong. Aryabaha in ancient India and Ptolemy in ancient Rome, the medieval bishops Oresme and Cusa, the 19th century astronomers Schiaparelli and Pickering, all rose to the challenge; and they were all almost correct. Which is to say, they were wrong... sometimes hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly so.” He will include the lessons that 21st century astronomers can take from these discarded images.

Brother Consolmagno holds a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona, as well as a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1989, he entered the Society of Jesus, and took vows as a brother in 1991. He was assigned as an astronomer to the Vatican Observatory and also serves as curator of the Vatican Meteorite collection, one of the largest such collections in the world. In addition to his continuing professional work in planetary science, he also has studied philosophy and theology.

His research is centered on the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In addition to over 40 refereed scientific papers, he has co-authored several books on astronomy, which have been translated into multiple languages.

During 1996, he took part in the Antarctic Search for Meteorites, ANSMET, where he discovered a number of meteorites on the ice fields of Antarctica. An asteroid was named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2000, 4597 Consolmagno, also known as "Little Guy."

Brother Consolmagno also is an accomplished author and popular speaker. He promoted his most recent book “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican” on The Colbert Report in December 2009. He travels about 100,000 miles each year, splitting his time between Tucson, Ariz., and Rome, and giving 40-50 presentations annually at a wide range of conventions, universities, schools and parishes around the world.

For more information, call Penn State Hazleton’s Office of University Relations at 570-450-3180.

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