The Foundation

The Vatican Observatory Foundation (VOF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to support the scientific and educational endeavors of the Vatican Observatory, including the maintenance and modernization of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT).

Through fundraising efforts and educational outreach such as trips, newsletters and seminars, the Foundation provides a way for the general public to know about the Vatican Observatory and play an active role in its mission.

While funding for the Vatican Observatory salaries and administrative expenses comes directly from the Holy See, funding for the telescope and educational initiatives is derived from the generous support of the benefactors of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Mission

The Vatican Observatory Foundation contributes exclusively to support the scientific research of the Vatican Observatory and engaging the public in the knowledge derived from that research.

To that end it raises funds to support the Observatory’s scientific equipment, maintains its scientific research groups, and organizes scholarly meetings.

Research

In the early 1990’s the marvels of technology and the commitment of a few visionary philanthropists made possible the creation of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), which empowered scientists to look with more acute “eyes” into the universe.

Today, the VATT continues to provide stunning access to the heavens for researchers from around the globe.

Combined with other technologies and the continued commitment of Vatican Observatory scientists, our work is literally pushing the boundaries of what we know and how we know it.

In addition, the Foundation supports the scientific work of the Vatican Observatory Research Group whose members have research status at the University of Arizona and whose offices are located within the Steward Observatory there.

Education

The Foundation is now the principle source of funding for the world-renowned Vatican Observatory Summer Schools, established in 1986 and held every two years at the Vatican Observatory headquarters in Castel Gandolfo.

There, 25 outstanding students from around the world, mostly from developing nations, are immersed in four weeks of intensive study on some aspect of astrophysics as taught by world experts.

The Foundation publishes a web site, Sacred Space Astronomy, which regularly publishes articles at a popular level on astronomy and the interaction between science, faith, and the general culture. In addition it maintains an online resource site of articles on the topic of Faith and Science.

Each year members of the Observatory staff share their expertise by making educational presentations to over 5,000 persons from 90 educational, religious and academic groups. In addition, it holds an annual free seminar open to the public featuring noted research astronomers discussing the latest topics in astronomical research.

With recent technology the staff can now use the telescope remotely enabling expanded educational outreach programs for students and the public.

Vatican Observatory scientists are playing an increasingly important role in the dialogue on science and religious faith.

Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

President's Message

Vatican Observatory Foundation

Many years ago, back in the late 1980s, the Vatican Observatory took a bold step: with the approval of the Vatican, we decided to build and maintain an advanced technology telescope.

There were a lot of chances that we took at that time. No one had ever built a telescope around a large “f/1” mirror before, simply because before Roger Angel’s invention of the spin-cast method (where glass is melted, and then slowly cooled, in a spinning oven) such mirrors of this size were simply impossible to make. Even further, the decision was made to use “Gregorian optics” where the correcting secondary mirror is placed beyond the focal point of the primary mirror. James Gregory had come up with this idea in the 19th century, but again it was only with this radical new mirror that such a design could be practical.

Well, you know the result. The “Pope Scope” with its mirror “made by an Angel” and an optical design that took a “Gregorian chance”, has turned out to be a grand success. The design choices we pioneered more than thirty years ago are now being applied to some of the largest telescopes in the world, like the seven mirror Giant Magellan Telescope under construction in Chile.

But the biggest chance of all that we took was to start building the telescope without being sure we had the money to pay for it and keep it going over the years. That meant we had to throw ourselves onto the mercy of donors we had not even met yet. But this risky venture has turned out to be the most rewarding of all.

It’s not just that you’ve come through with your financial support. (Indeed you have – though we could always use more supporters!) It is that in the process, this Foundation has become a place where Jesuit astronomers and people of faith who love astronomy can meet and get together. From my point of view, it’s the place where I have gotten to meet so many of you.

We spend a lot of our efforts now at the Foundation in outreach, to teach what we’ve learned from our study of the sky. But we do it as well to learn from you. Your enthusiasm and your curiosity are what reminds us of why we do this work. Thank you so much! It is through your voices that we hear the heavens proclaiming the Glory of God.

Br. Guy Consolmagno's Signature

Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.
President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation

Support Us

With the support of generous benefactors like you, the Vatican Observatory explores the furthest reaches of God’s vast creation - the galaxies, stars and planetary systems that reveal to us God’s unlimited majesty.

By making a gift to the VOF, you are an important partner in embracing, encouraging and promoting scientific study on our journey toward truth and in celebration of His supreme beauty.

Leadership

Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.
Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.
President

Vatican Observatory Foundation

Director

Specola Vaticana

Castel Gandolfo/Tucson, AZ

S. E. R. Mons. Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, L.C.
S. E. R. Mons. Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, L.C.
Vatican Representative

Foundation Board

Vatican City State

Rev. Paul Mueller, S.J.
Rev. Paul R. Mueller, S.J.
Vice President

Vatican Observatory Foundation

Superior

Jesuit Community

Castel Gandolfo/Tucson, AZ

Foundation Contact

If you’d like to discuss supporting the Foundation or just have a general question, please feel free to reach out to me via the contact form.

Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.

President

Vatican Observatory Foundation

Vatican Observatory Foundation

2017 E Lee St
Tucson, AZ 85719