We’re running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members – and as a part of it we’re including this blatant clickbait series… Besides, it’s a chance to tell some of the funny stories that come up during cloudy nights at the VATT!
The old astronomer tells the tale… In our Jesuit community nowadays there are too many people (with too many allergies) and too many trips away from the house to let any of us keep any pets. It’s a kind of poverty, I guess. However, many years ago when there were only a handful of Jesuits at the University of Arizona, one of them did have a dog. “Underdog” was his name.
Of course, with such a small community, it was a problem going away from the house for a few days, to go up the mountain to the telescope for an observing run. Who would care for the dog? His solution was to bring Underdog to the telescope with him.
Also in those days, one did not observe by sitting in a comfy chair sipping coffee in warm well lit room looking at a computer screen. You were out in the dome, cold and dark, all night, guiding the telescope manually to be sure it tracked on your object. Usually there were two of you, to spell each other during the night.
One such night, the astronomer was serving as assistant to the Very Important Director of the Observatory. When he came into the dome to take his turn at the telescope, brought Underdog with him, but left him at the bottom of the stairs in the dome… where the dog saw the large pillar supporting the telescope, and did what dogs do. Unfortunately, in the dark, the Director of the Observatory heading down the stairs did not notice this… until his foot encountered the canine emission, and slipped, and…
Pets are no longer allowed in the telescope building.
Why should you click on our donate button and help support our site? Your money supports the work of the Vatican Observatory, including our research, our telescope, our biennial summer schools, our educational outreach… and our mission to serve as a living sign of how science and religion are not enemies but work together without preconceptions in search of the truth. About a third of our budget comes from donations. And rather than just being at the mercy of one or two big donors or foundations, we want to show that our mission has a broader appeal. So we’re asking for lots of people willing to send us $10 a month as a sign that they support our mission..and enjoy reading our stories. Can you join us?