I thought this was an interesting article. Most people, upon hearing "Vatican Observatory" believe that the Catholic Church tracking down astrological signs of the second coming or some nonsense.
In reality the Observatory has been operational for quite a while as a scientific "house" if you will. This particular place is dedicated especially to the study of physics. Fr. Consolmongo also recently published a book "Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial: and Other Questions from the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory." To my surprise, my former Academic Dean, Fr. Paul Mueller, also co-authored the book. (www.amazon.com/Would-You-Bapti…
Regardless, I think some quotes from this article are interesting. The full article may be read here: hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/11/11…
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII decided that he wanted a national observatory for the Vatican. And it served two functions: one was political to show that the Vatican was an independent country with its own observatory, but the other was to show the world that the church supports science. It’s interesting that this came up in the end of the 19th century because that’s when the myth began that the church was against science. Before then most people realized that either you’re a nobleman or you’re a clergyman because who else has the education and free time for science.
On his research
“The asteroids and meteorites are the junk pile of the solar system. By studying them we can see what’s inside the planets and you even get a feel for what conditions were going on when the planets were being formed. The one thing that we’ve contributed at our work at the Vatican observatory is that we’ve done a survey of measuring physical properties so that if you’re interested in doing a model of how planets form and you want to know ‘well what’s the typical density of this kind of meteorite or that kind of meteorite,’ you look it up in our tables, you want to know their magnetic properties, you look it up in our tables.
It’s taken 20 years to make the tables we’ve come up with so far—this is the kind of work that no one else could do because no one could get funded for 20 years to do this, but since we don’t have to worry about funding, we just saw this is the kind of work we can do that we can contribute to the field.”
I hope this provides some good food for thought.