The Vatican Observatory, long run by the Jesuits, has recently complete a redesign of their website. The new site includes features like a podcast, with episodes such as “Death by Meteorite? What are the Chances?” and “The Vatican’s Interest in Space Exploration?” There’s a list of the scientists working at the observatory and what they study, including “fireballs” (Rev. Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya Eluo, SJ), “extrasolar planets” (Rev. Pavel Gabor, SJ), and “theoretical cosmology” (Rev. Matteo Galaverni, SJ), the same subject as Katie Mack’s recent popular book, “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking).” They have a collection of links to resources on faith and science, features articles on good astronomy textbooks and an interview with astronaut Jeanette Epps, among other things.
The Vatican Observatory traces its history back to 1582 and invention of the (current) Gregorian calendar. The older Julian calendar contained slight miscalculations, which were causing the date of Easter to drift back into winter, instead of closer to spring where it belonged. The Gregorian calendar corrected this problem. The Observatory’s current form, however, was started in 1891 by Leo XIII. The current director of the Observatory, Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ writes: “It is important to remember that this Observatory was a Pope’s idea, not ours!”