CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2023 / 09:00 am
The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) on Mount Graham in southern Arizona celebrated its 30th anniversary this month, and the observatory has several days worth of celebrations planned for this weekend.
The VATT is a relatively recent extension of the Vatican Observatory, which has roots dating to 1582, making it one of the oldest active astronomical observatories in the world. The observatory was re-founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, who intended to reinforce the Catholic Church’s support of science.
Originally located near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Vatican Observatory moved to Castel Gandolfo under Pope Pius XI due to light pollution from the city. In 1981, again due to growing light pollution, the observatory launched another research center under the famously dark Arizona skies.
The VATT, which is paid for by private donations, is today located on a mountaintop in rural Arizona about 200 miles southeast of Phoenix. The complex consists of the Alice P. Lennon Telescope and the Thomas J. Bannan Astrophysics Facility. The telescope saw “first light” on Sept. 18, 1993, the observatory said.