Apr 13

Vatican Astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno inspires young Irish Astronomers

St.Cronans Stargazers Astronomy Club Bray Co Wicklow with Vatican Astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno and Deirdre Kelleghan
Image Bernard Kelleghan

St Cronans National School Bray had a very special visitor on Wednesday March 20. None other than the Vatican Astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno SJ. Originally I had invited him to drop in and shake hands with St Cronans Stargazers our astronomy club, but he very generously offered to give a talk on astronomy for the whole school. 500 boys and their teachers were treated to a wonderfully pitched talk about the Vatican Observatory, the pope’s interest in the subject, the wonders of astronomy and all things that give joy in the vast universe in which we live.

The boys asked very intelligent questions, Br Guy gave them a listening ear, and his answers inspired and intrigued the entire audience. Br Guy Consolmagno SJ is an American research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. He presented Principal Maeve Tierney with  a signed copy of his famous book Turn Left at Orion for the school library.

Br Guy was delighted to visit Bray, after lunch in the Martello and a walk on the prom he dipped his hands in the Irish Sea, a rare moment for him in his busy global speaking schedule.

I first met Br Guy back in 2005 at the Whirlpool Star Party, at the time I had no clue who he was but we had a warm conversation about binoculars and observing. I was invited to this premier event  to give a talk about  Enceladus ( one of Saturn’s ice moons) and found out  next day that Guy was there to deliver a talk about Turn Left at Orion.

We met up again during International Year of Astronomy 2009. Br Guy was on a speaking tour in Ireland. The first of his talks was at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and Dunsink Observatory, followed by Gonzaga College.  We then continued on to COSMOS (Now - Irelands leading Star Party) in Tullamore and then to Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork. If my memory serves me right, Br Guy delivered six different talks in five days to varying audiences. Everyone of them was a polished gem in communicating the science and wonder  of astronomy.  

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