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    Greeks, Romans and Catholics
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2006 Mar 14, 09:56 -0800

    In our discussion of Ptolemy and helio- vs geo-centric universes,
    Galileo is often mentioned.
    
    He is, of course, famous for being threatened with excommunication by
    the Catholic church if he didn't recant his theories about the universe
    being heliocentric.
    
    Fast forward a few centuries:  Don't know how many are aware of this,
    but the Vatican has supported its own observatory for the last century
    or so.  No, not still trying to dispute Galileo (they learned their
    lesson on that one), but trying to advance astronomy.
    
    A friend of mine who is an avid amateur astronomer and an executive at
    Hewlett Packard is on their Board of Directors.   As a result he has
    arranged a number of talks by members of the observatory as they visit
    the San Francisco Bay area.
    
    They have offices in both Italy and Arizona, with their own 1.2m
    telescope observatory among the cluster of observatories atop mountains
    in the Phoenix area.  They do mostly planetary astronomy.
    
    Most of their staff are men who have PhD's in astronomy and who then
    decide to enter religious orders.  The head of the observatory, George
    Coyne, SJ (a vigorous man in his late 60s who still jogs 5 miles a day)
    has "spies" who look for these sorts of folks and recruits them for the
    Observatory.
    
    The size of the group is so small (about a dozen) that getting scope
    time is no problem, leading several Phoenix-area university astronomers
    to quip "Unlimited scope time and all I have to do is give up sex? Where
    do I sign up?" 
    
    Anyway, if you're interested, see more at www.vaticanobservatory.org
    
    Lu Abel
    
    
    

       
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