Brother Guy Consolmagno
Why did we go to the Moon? Why does the Vatican support an astronomical observatory? These questions mask a
deeper question: why do individuals choose to spend their lives in pursuit of pure knowledge? The motivation behind
our choices, both as individuals and as a society, controls the sorts of science that gets done. It determines the kinds of
answers that are found to be satisfying. And ultimately, it affects the way in which we think of ourselves.
Guy Consolmagno, SJ is a brother in the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), working since 1993 as an
astronomer and meteorite specialist at the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory), located in the Papal summer
gardens outside Rome. Since 2014 he has been president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, which supports the
work of the Observatory and especially its 1.8 meter Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) in Arizona. In
September of 2015 he was named Director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Francis.
A native of Detroit, MI, Consolmagno earned two degrees from MIT and a doctorate in planetary sciences from the
University of Arizona, was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and
taught university physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989. He has served as chair of the American
Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS/DPS) and on the planetary surfaces nomenclature
committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Asteroid “4597 Consolmagno” was named in recognition of
his work. In 2014 he won the Carl Sagan Med al for public outreach by the AAS/DPS.