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Vatican astronomer, author is guest on “Appalachian Perspective” to air in April

brotherguy_t.jpgBOONE – Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno discusses his career exploring the connections between science, religion and society in the April episode of Appalachian State University’s cable television program, “Appalachian Perspective.”

In a discussion with Appalachian’s chancellor and program host, Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock, Consolmagno talks about his unique responsibilities as Vatican astronomer.

“To be a sign that the church supports science. It’s not only not afraid of science, but it embraces science,” Consolmagno explains. “(My role is) to be a sign that the church supports science. It’s not only not afraid of science, but it embraces science,” Consolmagno explains. “It says the study of the natural universe is the study of God’s creation, and it’s a beautiful way to get to know God, to see how God created the universe.”

“Appalachian Perspective,” recorded and produced on the Appalachian campus in Boone, airs in Watauga County at the following times: on Charter Communications Channel 21 weekdays at 10:30 a.m., and 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.; on Charter Channel 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and on MTN’s Channel 18 Thursdays at 5:30, 6:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m., and Fridays at 12:30 p.m.

In his work and studies, Consolmagno uses astronomical images to explore the way a person can proceed from an emotional appreciation of the beauty of the stars and planets to a deeper understanding that satisfies reason and emotion. He has said the link between elegance and rational truth has profound theological implications.

Consolmagno joined the Jesuit order in 1989 after completing a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona and working as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard College Observatory. He took his vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991 and was assigned to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.

He has been a visiting scholar at St. Joseph’s University, Fordham University, Loyola College (Baltimore) and Loyola University (Chicago). He also has been a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He has coauthored five astronomy books: “Turn Left at Orion,” “Worlds Apart,” “The Way to the Dwelling of Light,” “Brother Astronomer” and “God’s Mechanics.”

He is curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest collections 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 2000, an asteroid was named in his honor.

The Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical institutes in the world. It was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII and originally was located behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. When light pollution began to threaten work at the observatory, it was moved to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence southeast of Rome. The Vatican Observatory Research Group also operates a research facility at the University of Arizona.

Consolmagno provided a March 1 lecture at Appalachian on “Astronomy, God and the Search for Elegance.” He also participated in a March 2 panel discussion. His visit to the university was sponsored by Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences.

This “Appalachian Perspective” episode, “Exploring the Connections of Science, Religion and Society,” featuring Brother Guy Consolmagno, also can be seen online at www.perspective.appstate.edu.

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