Across the Universe: View from afar

  • Article (blog post)
  • 750 words
  • Level: all audiences

Br. Guy Consolmagno, S. J., an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory, writes in a post on The Catholic Astronomer blog about using the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope or VATT to study small bodies in the outer solar system:.

By how often they brighten and dim, we measure how fast these bodies spin; by how much their brightness changes during these cycles, we get a measure of their irregular shapes. It is not particularly thrilling work. We point the telescope at a given object; take a three-minute exposure with our electronic camera; and then another exposure; and another; and another… These objects typically take about eight hours or more per spin; so we observe one body per night as it rises, crosses the sky, and sets in the west… checking the images for clarity, tweaking the focus, watching the skies to make sure that clouds are not moving in….

Click here to read the full article on The Catholic Astronomer – the blog of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.