Vatican Observatory Tour

I follow the blog The Catholic Astronomer from the Vatican Observatory Foundation. I’ve heard of the Vatican Observatory for a long time but never knew much about it. It sits a above an extinct volcanic lake at Castel Gandolfo in the Papal Gardens near Rome.

© Paul A. Zalonski

Very recently, the observatory director and foundation director led a tour of the place. Joining them was Christopher Graney who is an astronomy teacher in Louisville, KY. He recorded videos for his class to see later. His videos are posted here on the blog site.

Scroll to the bottom of his post and click the left of three small images about the history and telescopes. His link will take you to the three videos.

One aspect of interest in the tour was of the women computers who worked there and their machine used to measure stars on the glass plates. It connected well with the work of the women computers in The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel. Those women laid the foundations for many of the important principles used in modern astronomy.


7 thoughts on “Vatican Observatory Tour

  1. It’s good to see the word “computer” used in its original sense of ‘a person who computes.’ I calculate that by the half-way point in the 20th century that sense was already largely gone.

  2. What a great post. I enjoyed the information about the Vatican Observatory, and I was especially happy to see the mention of Dava Sobel’s book. I ordered it after reading about the women in March, when an article from “The Atlantic” was being posted here and there online.

    Then, I found this video from the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. It’s a lecture by Sobel, with some really interesting information, and a great Q&A session.

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