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Vatican Observatory program hosts an elite group of 25 students from around the world


When you think of Astronomy, you think of the comets, stars and the vastness of space. The mechanics behind the science is fascinating. But what is even more interesting is the Vatican's 30 year involvement in an elite summer program that hosts a group of 25 university students from around the world with an interest in Astronomy.

Student from Canada
"It's a really great program because you are not only learning about Science. You're are developing yourself as a scientist but you are also making new friends at the same time.”

Student from Poland
"We learn about water in the solar system and beyond also.”

Brother Guy Consolmagno is the Director of the Observatory and runs the summer program in Rome. The selection process is rigorous and the lucky university students that get chosen must prove various scholastic endeavors and skills. They must provide evidence of an educational and career interest in Astronomy and they must demonstrate a strong written and verbal command of the English language.

Director, Vatican Observatory
"When a student is admitted, we ask them to provide whatever financial assistance to themselves they can, in terms of making an airplane ticket, helping out in the hotel rooms. There is no tuition to the school, there is no charge once they arrive here. The meals are free. And once they are admitted, if they come up against a financial hardship, we will cover the rest of it.” 

The students that are chosen also get to spend four intense weeks studying specializes topics. The Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG) operates a Telescope at the Mount Graham International Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. The reason for the random Arizona location is not as random as it sounds. It's dark, dry climate and proximity to the equator make this location a perfect facility to house a telescope and study astronomy.

Director, Vatican Observatory
"It's really only in Modern time that some people try to drive a wedge between science and religion. Usually for political purposes or economic purposes. It doesn't hold up. If you're a scientist, you believe that there are laws to be found that explain how things work.” If you're belief is in a supernatural God, if you refuse to believe in nature Gods, then you are open to the question: How does nature work?”

In the middle ages, Astronomy was one of the main courses that universities taught before learning about Theology and Philosophy. According to Br. Guy, if you believe in God than wanting to learn how God created the universe is another way of getting to know Him. In other words, studying creation can be seen as an act of worship. And for these students, the sky's the limit.