Rev. Pedro Pablo Cartaya Gonzalez-Llorente, SJ is Jesuit Astronomer with a long history of public outreach; he is the managing director of the Fr. Benito Vieñes, SJ Observatory for astronomy and meteorology located at the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, Florida. The observatory has 11 telescopes and is the only school in the United States with a 16″ telescope with a CCD. The observatory hosts astronomy events such as an annual gala where guests can learn about the solar system.
Rev. Cartaya got an asteroid named after him – the citation appears in the the IAU’s WGSBN Bulletin dated Dec. 19, 2023:
(623031) Cartaya = 2015 GP61
Discovery: 2015-03-28 / K. Černis, R. P. Boyle * / Mount Graham / 290
Pedro Pablo Cartaya Gonzalez-Llorente, SJ, (b. 1936) is a Cuban-American astronomer. He is managing director of the Belen Observatory at the Belen Jesuit School in Miami, a high school observatory with 22 telescopes, whose alumni include a number of scientists and engineers active in the field of space science.
Asteroid (623031) Cartaya was discovered on 2015-03-28; it orbits within the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, with a period of 3.9 years, and a slight inclination of 1.84° to the ecliptic plane.
JPL Small Body Database entry: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/tools/sbdb_lookup.html#/?sstr=2015%20GP61
Comments from Rev. Cartaya
My first experience with astronomy started when I was 13 years old in 1948. I knew of a shooting stars that particular night in Havana, Cuba. At that time I was an student in the Jesuit High school, Colegio de Belen, I asked permission of my Director of the school to spend the whole night on the roof the school to count the possible meteors. After many hours seen nothing i Was about to quit, but I decided to stay because it was my purpose.
My reward was enormous; at 3:30 am in the morning I saw the most spectacular meteor I have seen in my life. I was overwhelmed in the midst of that darkness and solitude of the night, but my enthusiasm for astronomy started that very moment. Today, after 75 years elapsed from that event, I have dedicated my life, apart of my priestly obligations and responsibilities, to the study, observations and teaching Astronomy.
I visited several observatories in California, Wisconsin, Tucson, Puerto Rico, Spain. I founded two observatories: one in Miami, Florida, another in Dominican Republic. I participated in the UNESCO Convention, in Dominican Republic, I organized two excursions to total and partial Sun eclipses, I contributed with an experiment about DNA molecules with my Astronomy students of my school in NASA during the Spacecraft Discovery in 1998, and have been teaching astronomy lectures every Tuesdays to the members of Astronomy Club of my school during the last 25 years.
Now, with this unexpected Asteroid dedication, my enthusiasm for Astronomy will be redoubled, as a priest, for the glory of God, the progress of Science and the benefit of the humanity!
“Father Cartaya always setting an example of the perfect combination of excellence and passion!”
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Image: The Belen Jesuit Observatory and Fr. Pedro Cartaya ‘54 hosted a viewing of the “Christmas Star,” the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn – Dec. 21, 2020. Credit: Belen Jesuit Preparatory School on Facebook