Guy Consolmagno

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Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ
Consolmagno in his lab
Born (1952-09-19) September 19, 1952 (age 71)
Alma materM.I.T. (S.B. 1974, S.M. 1975)
Arizona (Ph.D. 1978)
AwardsSt. Albert Award (2022)[1]
Scientific career
FieldsPlanetary science

Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ (born September 19, 1952), is an American research astronomer, physicist, religious brother, director of the Vatican Observatory, and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.[2]


Consolmagno attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School before he obtained his S.B. (1974) and S.M. (1975) degrees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. (1978) at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, all in planetary science. After postdoctoral research and teaching from 1978 to 1980 at Harvard College Observatory and from 1980 to 1983 at MIT, in 1983 he joined the US Peace Corps to serve in Kenya for two years, teaching astronomy and physics.[3] After his return he took a position as Assistant Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

In 1989 he entered the Society of Jesus, and took vows as a 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, a position he has held since then. In addition to his continuing professional work in planetary science, he has also 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 for the popular market, 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 honour by the International Astronomical Union, IAU in 2000 - 4597 Consolmagno.

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."[4] Consolmagno was the Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society,[5] serving from October 2006 to October 2007. Consolmagno is a popular speaker as well as a writer of popular science. He has been a guest of honor at several science fiction conventions, including DucKon in 2000, ConFusion in his native state of Michigan in 2002, Boskone in 2007, ConClave in 2009, MuseCon in 2015, and Minicon and NASFiC in 2017. He was an invited participant in Scifoo in 2008 as well. He taught at Fordham University in New York City for the fall term of 2008. Consolmagno gave the keynote speech at the 2013 Stellafane amateur telescope making convention on Aug 10. He appeared on The Colbert Report in December 2009 to promote his book, The Heavens Proclaim.[6] In May 2014, Consolmagno received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa) from Georgetown University and spoke at the Georgetown College commencement ceremony.[7][8] In 2010, he was a guest on On Being with Krista Tippett, alongside his friend and colleague Father George Coyne, S.J. In the interview, Consolmagno and Coyne discussed their distinct and intimate relationships with science and faith. The show aired for a second time in 2011, and for a third time in September 2015.[9]

On July 2, 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.[10]

Known as "The Pope's Astronomer," he was named by Pope Francis to be the Director of the Vatican Observatory in September 2015.[11][12]

In 2022, Consolmagno was awarded the St. Albert Award by the Society of Catholic Scientists.[13]

Consolmagno additionally has made several appearances on EWTN's original programming, most notably featuring prominently in the August 2021 EWTN Vaticano special episode "Inside the Vatican Observatory - Where Science Meets Faith."[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Society of Catholic Scientists – 2022 St. Albert Award
  2. ^ "Vatican Observatory Foundation Board of Directors". Vatican Observatory Foundation. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Guy Consolmagno". Physics Today. September 17, 2017. doi:10.1063/PT.6.6.20170919a.
  4. ^ "Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  5. ^ Current Division of Planetary Science Officers Archived 2006-06-17 at the Wayback Machine at
  6. ^ Gold, Frankincense and Mars, December 1, 2009. The Colbert Report
  7. ^ "Georgetown Announces Speakers for 2014 Commencement". Georgetown University. May 1, 2014. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  8. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  9. ^ "Guy Consolmagno and George Coyne - Asteroids, Stars, and the Love of God". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "2014 AAS Prize Winners". Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  11. ^ Cartlidge, Edwin (29 September 2015). "Talking science and God with the pope's new chief astronomer". Science. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Pope names U.S. Jesuit planetary scientist to head Vatican Observatory". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Vaticano - 2021-08-01 - Inside the Vatican Observatory - Where Science Meets Faith, retrieved 2022-10-02
  15. ^ Sampson, R. (1991). "Book Review: Turn Left at Orion / CUP, 1989". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 85 (3): 149. Bibcode:1991JRASC..85..149S.
  16. ^ Rossi, Frances (2002). "Review of Brother Astronomer". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27; revised 2006{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  17. ^ Mahoney, Terence J. (2003). "Book Review: Brother astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican scientist". The Observatory. 123 (1172): 52–53. Bibcode:2003Obs...123...52M.
  18. ^ Connolly Jr., Harold C. (2009). "Review of God's mechanics". Meteoritics & Planetary Science. 44 (7): 1087–1088.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Director of the Vatican Observatory
2015 -
Succeeded by