In DepthQ&A

Talking science and God with the pope's new astronomer

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Science  02 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6256, pp. 17-18
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6256.17

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Summary

On 18 September, Pope Francis appointed Jesuit brother Guy Consolmagno, 63, as the new director of the Vatican Observatory, which employs a dozen astronomers to study asteroids, meteorites, extrasolar planets, stellar evolution, and cosmology. The observatory is based at the pope's summer residence south of Rome and operates a 1.8-meter telescope in Arizona. In an interview with Science, Consolmagno discussed why the Vatican does astronomy, the observatory's contributions to science, and what he hopes to achieve as director. He also discussed the relation between religion and science. God doesn't get in the way of doing good astronomy, Consolmagno said: "Just the opposite. He is the reason we do astronomy."

  • * in Rome. Edwin Cartlidge is a science writer in Rome.