Brother Guy Consolmagno, Curator of Meteorites at the Vatican Observatory, will speak at the Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, on 29 and 30 March at 2.30 p.m., as part of the Lifelong Learning Festival. Guy, born in Detroit, USA, is a research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. When he entered the Jesuits in 1989 aged 37, he had already worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard and M.I.T., and had served with the Peace Corps in Kenya for two years. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991. On entry into the order, he was assigned as an astronomer to the Vatican Observatory, where he also serves as curator of the Vatican Meteorite collection, positions he has held since then.
The Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gondolfo, which Guy cares for, is one of the largest 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 1996 he spent six weeks collecting meteorites on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honoured by the International Astronomical Union for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids, with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno.
In addition to his continuing professional work in planetary science, Guy studied philosophy and theology for two years at Loyola, Chicago. He is a big fan of Rory Gallagher. He believes in the need for science and religion to work alongside one another rather than as competing ideologies. In 2006, he said, “Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism – it’s turning God into a nature god.”