Catholic News Agency has interviewed Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., who works at the Vatican Observatory, and is known for his science communcation work:
“The astonishing thing to me about astronomy is not only that the universe makes sense and I can come up with equations and explain it,” he continued, “but the way it makes sense is beautiful.”
“God chose to create a universe that was at the same time logical and beautiful, one that I can enjoy with my brain and enjoy with my heart,” he stressed, going on to say that this “tells me something about who God is and how He creates and how He’s expecting me to relate to Him.”
Addressing the fact that many are surprised at the existence of the Vatican Observatory, Br. Consolmagno stated that “that’s part of the reason we exist; to surprise people.”
“To make people realize that the church not only supports science, literally… but we support and embrace and promote the use of both our hearts and our brains to come to know how the universe works.”
Image: Catholic News Agency
Dialogue between science and faith also belongs to the work of evangelization at the service of peace. Whereas positivism and scientism “refuse to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences”, the Church proposes another path, which calls for a synthesis between the responsible use of methods proper to the empirical sciences and other areas of knowledge such as philosophy, theology, as well as faith itself, which elevates us to the mystery transcending nature and human intelligence. Faith is not fearful of reason; on the contrary, it seeks and trusts reason, since “the light of reason and the light of faith both come from God” and cannot contradict each other. Evangelization is attentive to scientific advances and wishes to shed on them the light of faith and the natural law so that they will remain respectful of the centrality and supreme value of the human person at every stage of life. All of society can be enriched thanks to this dialogue, which opens up new horizons for thought and expands the possibilities of reason. This too is a path of harmony and peace.
The Church has no wish to hold back the marvellous progress of science. On the contrary, she rejoices and even delights in acknowledging the enormous potential that God has given to the human mind. Whenever the sciences – rigorously focused on their specific field of inquiry – arrive at a conclusion which reason cannot refute, faith does not contradict it. Neither can believers claim that a scientific opinion which is attractive but not sufficiently verified has the same weight as a dogma of faith. At times some scientists have exceeded the limits of their scientific competence by making certain statements or claims. But here the problem is not with reason itself, but with the promotion of a particular ideology which blocks the path to authentic, serene and productive dialogue.
Here are the latest ISON images from SOHO. The comet now definitely appears to have been disrupted by its pass near the Sun, leaving little more than a dust cloud behind. Updates are available from Sky & Telescope.
Launch occurred today on schedule. The probe should enter lunar orbit on December 6th, with landing scheduled for December 14th. Read more from Spaceflight Now.
On August 18th, 1976, the Soviet probe Luna 24 landed safely on the Moon. Using a robotic drill, it obtained a sample of lunar soil; it then launched from the surface, returning to Earth on August 22nd. Since that mission, no probe has returned for a soft landing to the Moon’s surface, although there have been numerous orbital missions and a few probes crashed into the surface to study their impacts. Now, China is set to be the first to return to the Moon with a soft landing.
Chang’e 3, China’s latest lunar probe, is currently expected to launch on Sunday (12:30 p.m. EST, or Monday morning at 1:30 a.m. local time). Chang’e will land a six-wheeled, solar-powered rover that will be used to explore the Moon’s Sinus Iridum region.
More here from Spaceflight Now and from Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society.
Image: Beijing Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering
Comet ISON made its closest approach to the Sun yesterday, and it’s not quite clear yet in just what form the comet has emerged from its close encounter. Comets are composed of conglomerations of ice and rock, and exposure to the Sun’s intense heat and gravity during close passes can tear them apart. The comet’s nucleus orbits the Sun like any other solid solar system body, while the gas and dust of the coma and tail make up the dramatic, visible portion of the comet as they are blasted off the nucleus by solar heat and pressure. During live observations with NASA’s SDO satellite yesterday, observers did not see ISON come back into view as expected—in fact, it was surprisingly not seen by SDO at all. The suspicion began to grow that the comet hadn’t survived in any meaningful state. Later, however, SOHO images (above) revealed that something had survived, as an obvious cloud emerged from near the Sun, following ISON’s orbital path. But there is still not enough evidence to make any confident judgments about what this post-encounter ISON is. Clearly, ISON in some form is now headed away from the Sun, but whether it is ISON’s nucleus, substantially intact, or scattered fragments, like the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9, remains to be seen.
Updates are available from NASA and from the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.
Comet ISON is currently approaching the Sun, and it is now so close that it is no longer visible from the Earth. However, NASA’s SDO satellite has a perfect view of the comet, and they will be monitoring it as it passes through the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The comet will reach its closest point to the Sun on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 28th). NASA will be hosting a live online Google+ discussion about the comet, beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST.
The event will also be broadcast on NASA Television.
Live images will also be posted at the SDO website.
Image: NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery
Meleagris gallopavo (Wild turkey)
“Do not imagine that what has occurred is a victory of science over religion. In the end science suffers too. As the pure research of the first half century, the revolutionary physics of Planck and Einstein, devolved into the technology of the second half, more and more youths turned their backs on both, the new science and the old God, and sought instead the fragile Utopias of the right place and the right person and the right emotion at the right time.
What happens when these utopias don’t work?”
The Message in the Bottle
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) probe launched today from Cape Canaveral aboard and Atlas V rocket, headed for Mars. MAVEN will study Mars’ upper atmosphere for signs of how and why it has changed over the planet’s history. Read more from NASA
and from Spaceflight Now.