On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI named Argentinean Jesuit Father Jose Gabriel Funes new director of the Vatican Observatory.
Father Funes was born in Cordoba, Argentina, and is a member of the Observatory. He replaces American Jesuit Father George Coyne.
Father Funes studied astronomy before entering the Jesuits, and after his ordination he continued with his studies in the field.
The Vatican Observatory
Pope Leo XIII established the Vatican Observatory near St. Peter’s Basilica. However, Rome’s heavy pollution made observations difficult, and in 1935 the facility was moved to Castelgandolfo.
In 1981, modern city lights in Rome made it necessary to found a second center of research, “The Vatican Observatory Research Group” in Tucson, Arizona, one of the largest and most advanced astronomical centers in the world.
In 1993, in collaboration with the Steward Observatory, the Vatican Observatory completed construction of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) at Monte Graham, Arizona, considered one of the best astronomical sites in North America.