Wednesday 18 July 2018

Pope’s Astronomer to visit Kerry’s Dark Sky Reserve

The Pope’s Astronomer, Bro. Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Director of the Vatican Observatory, will visit the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve on the Wild Atlantic Way, Tuesday, October 17th.

He is due to deliver two talks – one to secondary school students at Coláiste na Sceilge, Cahersiveen, and the second, a public lecture later that evening at 8.00pm, also at Coláiste na Sceilge, entitled “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican”.

Bro. Guy is visiting County Kerry at the invitation of Steve Lynott, Chairman, Skellig Coast Dark Skies Committee, who are seeking to popularise South West Kerry and its pristine dark skies for Astro-tourism.  He will be officially welcomed to the county by Councillor John Sheehan, Mayor of Kerry, and Kerry County Council.  Councillor Sheehan said “it is a great honour for the county to have Bro. Guy Consolmagno visit. It demonstrates the importance that he and other world astronomers attach to the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve and our efforts to protect and promote it”.

Tickets to Brother Guy’s talk ‘The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican’ on Tuesday 17th of October are FREE and available here.

Brother Guy 1.jpg
credit: Dave Connolly Sigma Brand Ambassador

Backed by mountains and corralled by the crashing sea, the Dark Sky Reserve stretches from Kells Bay to Caherdaniel, a rare area of exceptional quality, starry nights and nocturnal environment, a protected place of natural darkness which aims to exclude light pollution, incorporating approximately 700 square kilometres. The incredible thing about this part of the Wild Atlantic Way is it is the only Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere, and one of only three in the world, the others being a nature reserve in Namibia and Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand.

Mr. John O’Connor, principal of Colaiste Na Sceilge, said the staff and pupils are delighted to host a scientist of Bro Guy’s stature and commented that his visit would support the Colaiste’s ongoing commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies. The visit has also been welcomed by Frank Curran, Chairman, Skellig Coast Tourism Network.

Steve Lynott said that “Bro Guy is a charismatic, enthusiastic scientist and communicator whose talks are enjoyed by astronomers and the wider public all over the world. He is taking time from his busy schedule to visit the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve to demonstrate his commitment to conservation and preservation of the great natural resource of the unpolluted night sky we enjoy in the Skellig Coast Region.”

Br. Guy Consolmagno is a Jesuit brother and a planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory, who divides his time between observatories in Rome and in Arizona, USA . His work brings him around the world to dozens of countries and every continent, including a meteorite hunting expedition in 1996 to Antarctica!

He is the author of several books on Astronomy and Science and the Church, including “Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them” which he co-wrote with Dan Davis. This book is used by many amateur astronomers as their guide to the night skies.

Bro. Guy, who holds doctorates in Lunar and Planetary Science from the University of Arizona, Harvard University and MIT, joined the Jesuit Order in 1989.  He believes in the need for science and religion to work alongside one another rather than as competing ideologies.

In the year 2000, for his contribution to Planetary Science,  the International Astronomical Union, named an asteroid after him - 4597 Consolmagno, also known as "Little Guy."   In 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public”.  He was appointed to his present position as Director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Francis in September 2015.

During his visit on the Wild Atlantic Way, Bro. Guy is expected to visit a number of sites in the Skellig Coast Region and to take time out to enjoy some star gazing in the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve.


Find out more bout the Dark Sky Reserve on the Wild Atlantic Way here


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