Jun 05 2015

Article: An interview with Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno SJ


Source: https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2015-05/considering-heavens

I occasionally link to more confessional, interesting articles that illuminate the ways in which members of different faiths view astronomy. This one, “Considering the Heavens: Astronomer Guy Consolmagno”, is simply fascinating.


We need the humility to say that we don’t understand it all. I know my science is true, but I also know it is not completely true, so I have to keep improving it. I think my faith is completely true, but I know I don’t understand all of it—my understanding is in constant need of revision.

Sep 06 2014

Colloquium announcement: The Star of Bethlehem — Historical and Astronomical Perspectives

This two-day colloquium will take place at the University of Groningen on October 23 and 24, 2014.

Scholars in the history of astronomy, ancient history, religion and related fields will speak on the topic of the Star of Bethlehem. There is also space for approximately thirty guest attendees.

Among the list of speakers are Owen Gingerich, Alexander Jones, John Steele, Kocku von Stuckrad, and Mladen Popović. This should be a most exciting and fruitful colloquium.

More information may be found at this link.

Jul 21 2014

Article: Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno Wins Carl Sagan Medal from the AAS

Source: http://www.jesuits.org/news-detail?TN=NEWS-20140714111304

Source: http://www.jesuits.org/news-detail?TN=NEWS-20140714111304

Congratulations to Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., winner of the Carl Sagan Medal, awarded by the American Astronomical Society for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public”.

Brother Consolmagno will receive his medal at the 46th annual Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson, Arizona in November, 2014.

More on this story here and here.

Sep 15 2013

Recent Book: Living the Lunar Calendar


Recent Publication:

Living the Lunar Calendar
Edited by Jonathan Ben-Dov, Wayne Horowitz, and John M Steele

This 2012 publication is a rich collection of papers by the editors, as well as Lawrence Schiffman, Sacha Stern, Robert Hannah, and others on the topic of lunar calandars in cultures including the ancient Near East, Christianity, Judaism, China, Japan, ancient Greece, America, and Russia. These papers engage topics including the variability of the lunar calendar, and the effects of this variability and the changing beginning of the month upon religious holiday planning, record keeping, etc. The table of contents of this excellent volume may be found here.

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Sep 12 2013

Event: Vatican Astronomer to speak in Edinburgh

Wish I could be at this lecture by Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ of the Vatican Observatory. If any of my readers attend and feel inspired to describe the event, please feel free to do so here. The lecture takes place at the Lauriston Jesuit Centre, Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ at 7.30pm on Saturday 14 September.


Sep 12 2013

Astronomy and Belief

Category: Christianity,Religion news,Science and Religionalobel @ 7:39 pm
Vatican Observatory Telescope on the roof of the Ponticial Palace in Castel Gandolfo (Wikimedia Commons)

Vatican Observatory Telescope on the roof of the Ponticial Palace in Castel Gandolfo (Wikimedia Commons)

This online article, an edited version of a talk by Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno SJ, is well worth reading. Here, he addresses his encounters with God while observing the heavens.

May 19 2009

Film: Agora


While this is decidedly closer to the popular culture pole, I thought that news of a relevant upcoming film might be of interest to many of you. Entitled Agora, it’s the story of the Pagan astronomer and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, daughter of Theon, who lived and died according to her beliefs and ideals. The film promises to be quite the epic, with both ample exposition of fifth century Christian-Pagan relations and — I would imagine — some ancient astronomical content. Either way, it certainly seems promising.

Mar 06 2009

Behind the curtain. . .

Just a quick peek behind the workings of this blog. I’m currently spending much of my time reading materials in preparation for my comprehensive exams. (a.k.a. qualifying exams) For now, as has been the case for a few months, until these exams are completed, I only have a limited amount of time to devote to Chaldea (i.e., I’ll post whenever I can). I thought I’d bring a notable source I’m working with to the attention of others in similar fields.

For those interested in cultural perceptions of the heavens in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, ancient Israel, Persia, Greco-Roman cultures, as well as early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I highly recommend The Early History of Heaven, by J. Edward Wright. (2000, Oxford University Press)

I first took it out of the library in 2003, but soon found it indispensable, so I bought a copy. It’s a very thorough overview of the important writings and beliefs about heaven and/or the heavens (including heavenly cosmography) in these cultures, and it incorporates archaeological findings as well as textual sources. It is difficult to distinguish between astronomy proper and astral beliefs in many ancient civilizations; this book provides the reader with a solid awareness of the background views of the cosmos in these cultures, thereby setting the stage for later evolutions in cultural astronomy.

Have a good weekend, all!

Mar 03 2009

Cardinal Lajolo Visits University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory

Category: Christianity,Religion news,Science and Religionalobel @ 1:29 pm


Both scientific conceptions of the universe and the views of the Roman Catholic church have, of course, changed immensely since the time of Copernicus. The Church has, in fact, come to take special interest in happenings astronomical. In this article, published by the University of Arizona News, we read of Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo’s recent visit to the Steward Observatory to meet with Vatican and UA astronomers. As the article reveals, “the cardinal reports about the Vatican Observatory directly to Pope Benedict XVI.”

On a related note, my thanks to reader Rebecca Kelley for sending along a link to a recent posting to the Uncertain Believer blog. The posting is entitled How Will the Church Respond to Discoveries About the Universe?

[Edited to add: I thought I’d read some rather enlightened comments from the Chief Vatican astronomer Reverend José Gabriel Funes on the question of possible intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and indeed, here is one article in which he discusses the matter, as well as a quote within it exemplifying his views:

“Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can’t put limits on God’s creative freedom,” he said. [. . .] “Why can’t we speak of a ‘brother extraterrestrial’? It would still be part of creation.”]

Dec 24 2008

Galileo redux

Category: Christianity,History of Astronomy,Religion newsalobel @ 3:55 pm


Several days ago, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical observations using a telescope, Pope Benedict praised Galileo’s work, and asserted that such observations of the heavens can lead to a fuller appreciation of God’s creation. More details here.

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