Vatican Astronomer to Give Commencement Address

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, has been announced as the commencement speaker for the ceremony taking place at 2 p.m. May 9 in Stokes Stadium.

A native of Detroit, Mich., Consolmagno earned undergraduate and masters’ degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and taught university physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989.

Affiliated with the Vatican Observatory since 1993, Consolmagno’s research includes exploring connections between meteorites, asteroids and the evolution of small solar system bodies; observing Kuiper Belt comets with the Vatican’s 1.8-meter telescope in Arizona; and applying his measure of meteorite physical properties to understanding asteroid origins and structure. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, Consolmagno is the author of a number of popular books including “Turn Left at Orion” with Dan Davis, and most recently “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” with Paul Mueller. He also has hosted science programs for BBC Radio 4, been interviewed in numerous documentary films, appeared on “The Colbert Report,” and for more than a decade he has written a monthly science column for the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet.

Consolmagno’s work has taken him to every continent on Earth. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with a NASA team on the blue ice regions of East Antarctica. He has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (of which he was chair in 2006-2007); and IAU Commission 16 (Planets and Satellites). In 2000, the small bodies nomenclature committee of the IAU named an asteroid, 4597 Consolmagno, in recognition of his work. In 2014, he received the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences for excellence in public communication in planetary sciences.

Brother Guy Consolmagno