As I write this we have just celebrated the feast of Epiphany. As described in the Gospel of Matthew the Magi follow a star that leads them to the Christ child. A joyful moment of discovery “while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7) A journey of mind and spirit. A juxtaposition of science and religion. The astronomers of the Vatican Observatory continue this journey as they apply human reason to pierce the veil of God’s infinite creation. In 2016 gravitational waves, predicted 100 years prior by the mind of Albert Einstein, were discovered. Closer to home Vatican Observatory scientists made important discoveries and earned international awards. Fr. David Brown, whose research focuses on stellar evolution, has completed computer simulations of subdwarf B type stars that sheds light on what our Sun may evolve to in 5 billion years. Fr. Richard D’Souza, who just received his PhD in April 2016, has shown that there is more stellar mass in galaxies than previously thought providing new insights into how galaxies in the universe grow through accretion and mergers with smaller galaxies. Fr. Richard Boyle, whose research focuses on stars and asteroids, was honored by his collaborators who named asteroid 302849 “Richardboyle”. The Vatican Observatory is one of the few institutions in the world where science and religion meet in constructive dialogue. I found myself in awe of the work of the Vatican Observatory when I first learned of the group fifteen years ago. The study of the universe by men of faith is fascinating on multiple levels, and I am honored to help guide the non-profit Vatican Observatory Foundation. The Vatican Observatory Foundation was established in 1987 by Pope John Paul II to fund construction of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope to conduct leading edge research as well as to support education. Our mission remains the same today and is all the more relevant in a time when many misleadingly assert that religion and science are incompatible. In my view, the Vatican Observatory Foundation is a fascinating partnership between the Catholic Church, dedicated scientists, and benefactors like you who welcome the pursuit of knowledge and understand that the Heavens proclaim the Glory of the Creator. In 2016 the Vatican Observatory achieved unique milestones in outreach to lovers of wisdom, young and old. Our Catholic Astronomer blog traffic grew 65% resulting in over 99,000 views for the year. The number of “Likes” on our Facebook page increased 30% to nearly 2700. Please share this page with your friends and see if we can get 5000 likes in 2017. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I offer my profound gratitude to all who support the Vatican Observatory Foundation. Your support is paramount to the long-term viability of this vital endeavor. In these pages I hope you find insight, inspiration, and a sense of awe.
Rich Friedrich Chairman