Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.


Br. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J.

Director of the Vatican Observatory

President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation
Area of Research: Asteroids and Meteorites


  • B.S. Planetary Science - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974
  • M.S. Planetary Science - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1975
  • Ph.D. Planetary Science - University of Arizona, 1978


  • International Astronomical Union (since 1994)
    • Member, Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature
    • Chair, Mars Nomenclature Task Group
  • American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (since 1994)
    • Chair, Division for Planetary Sciences (2007 term)
  • Meteoritical Society (since 1994)


  • Fellow of the Meteoritical Society, 2008
  • Ph.D. Honoris Causa of Humane Letters, Georgetown University, 2014
  • Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public, American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences, 2014

Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ was born in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1974 and Master of Science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978-80 he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory, and from 1980-1983 continued as postdoc and lecturer at MIT.

In 1983 he left MIT to join the US Peace Corps, where he served for two years in Kenya teaching physics and astronomy. Upon his return to the US in 1985 he became an assistant professor of physics at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught until his entry into the Jesuit order in 1989. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.

In spring 2000 he held the MacLean Chair for Visiting Jesuit Scholars at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, in 2006-2007 the Loyola Chair at Fordham University, New York, and in fall 2009 the Lanigan Chair in Science, Medicine, and Ethics at LeMoyne College, Syracuse. He has also been a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and a visiting professor at Loyola College, Baltimore, and Loyola University, Chicago.

Br. Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 - present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007). Since 2008 he has been a member of the IAU Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature and the Mars Nomenclature Task Group; in 2015 he became chair of the Mars TG.

He has coauthored two astronomy books: Turn Left at Orion (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1989) and Worlds Apart (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993). He is the author or co-author of four books exploring faith and science issues, including The Way to the Dwelling of Light (U of Notre Dame Press, 1998); Brother Astronomer (McGraw Hill, 2000); God's Mechanics (Jossey-Bass, 2007), and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (With Paul Mueller, Image, 2014). He also edited The Heavens Proclaim (Vatican Observatory Publications, 2009).  Since 2004 he has written a monthly column on astronomy for the British Catholic periodical, The Tablet.

Research Interests:

Br. Consolmagno’s research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with an NSF-sponsored team on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honored by the IAU for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno.


  • Guy Consolmagno, SJ and Paul Mueller, SJ. Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? … and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory.  (Image, 2014).
  • The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican. Edited by Guy Consolmagno. (Our Sunday Visitor, 2009).
  • Guy Consolmagno. God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion. (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
  • Guy Consolmagno. Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist. (McGraw-Hill, 2000).
  • Guy J. Consolmagno. The Way to the Dwelling of Light. (U. of Notre Dame Press, 1998).
  • Guy Consolmagno and Martha Schaefer. Worlds Apart: A Textbook in Planetary Sciences. (Addison-Wesley, 1994).
  • Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis. Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them. (Cambridge University Press, 1989; fourth edition, 2011).

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  • Tegler S. C., Romanishin W., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Rall J., Worhatch R., Nelson M. and Weidenschilling S. J. (2005). The period of rotation, shape, density, and homogeneous surface color of the Centaur 5145 Pholus. Icarus 175, 390-396.
  • Gattacceca J., Rochette P., Denise M., CONSOLMAGNO G., Folco L., Zanda B. (2005). An impact origin for the foliation of chondrites. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 234, 351-368.
  • CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Macke R. J., Rochette P., Britt D. T. and Gattacceca J. (2006). Density, magnetic susceptibility, and the characterization of ordinary chondrite falls and showers. Meteorit. Planet. Sci., 41, 331-342.
  • Tegler S. C., Grundy W. M.,  Romanishin W., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Mogren K., and Vilas F. (2007) Optical Spectroscopy of the large Kuiper belt objects 2005 FY9 and 2003 EL61, Astronom. J. 133, 526-530.
  • CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Britt D. T. and Macke R. J. (2008). The significance of meteorite density and porosity. (Invited Review). Chemie der Erde 68, 1–29.
  • Tegler S. C., Grundy W. M.,  Vilas F., Romanishin W., Cornelison D. and CONSOLMAGNO G. J. (2008). Evidence of N2-Ice on the surface of the icy dwarf planet 136472 (2005 FY9). Icarus, 195, 844-850.
  • Rochette P., Gattacceca J., Bonal L., Bourot-Denise M., Chevrier V., Clerc J.-P., CONSOLMAGNO G., Folco L., Gounelle M., Kohout T., Pesonen L., Quirico E., Sagnotti L., and Skripnik A. (2008) Magnetic classification of stony meteorites: 2. Non-ordinary chondrites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 43, 959-980.
  • Alexander C.,  Carlson R., CONSOLMAGNO G.,  Greeley R., and Morrison D. (2008). The exploration history of Europa. In Europa (Robert Pappalardo, William McKinnon, and Krishan Khurana, eds.) Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson.
  • Rochette P., Gattacceca J., Bourot-Denise M., CONSOLMAGNO G., Folco L., Kohout T., Pesonen L., and Sagnotti L. (2009) Magnetic classification of stony meteorites: 3. Achondrites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 44, 405-427.
  • Macke R. J., Britt D. T. and CONSOLMAGNO G. J. (2010). Analysis of systematic error in “bead method” measurements of meteorite bulk volume and density. Planet Space Sci., 58, 421-426.
  • Romanishin W., Tegler S. C., and CONSOLMAGNO G. J. (2010). Colors of inner disk classical Kuiper belt objects. Astronomical Journal, 140, 29-33.
  • Opeil C. P., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Britt D. T. (2010). The thermal conductivity of meteorites: New measurements and analysis. Icarus 208, 449-454.
  • Macke R. J., Britt D. T., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., and Hutson M. L. (2010). Enstatite chondrite density, magnetic susceptibility and porosity. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 1513-1526.
  • Macke R. J., Britt D. T. and CONSOLMAGNO G. J. (2011). Density, porosity and magnetic susceptibility of achondritic meteorites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci., 46, 311-326.
  • Kohout T., Kiuru R., Montonen M., Scheirich P., Britt D., Macke R. and  CONSOLMAGNO G. (2011). 2008 TC3 asteroid internal structure and physical properties inferred from study of the Almahata Sitta meteorites. Icarus 212, 697-700.
  • Macke R. J., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., and Britt D. T. (2011) Density, porosity and magnetic susceptibility of carbonaceous chondrites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 46, 1842-1862.
  • Opeil C. P., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Safarik D. J. and Britt D. T. (2012). Stony meteorite thermal properties and their relationship to meteorite chemical and physical states. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 47, 319-329.
  • Keifer W. S., Macke R. J., Britt D. T., Irving A. J. and CONSOLMAGNO G. J. (2012). The density and porosity of lunar rocks. Geophysical Research Letters 39, L07201.
  • CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Schaefer M. W., Schaefer B. E., Britt D. T., Macke R. J., Nolan M. C. and Howell E. S. (2013). The measurement of meteorite heat capacity at low temperatures using liquid nitrogen vaporization. Planet Space Sci. 87, 146–156
  • Turrini D., Combe J.-P., McCord T. B., Oklay N., Vincent J.-B, Prettyman T. H., McSween H. Y., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., De Sanctis M. C., Le Corre L., Longobardo A., Palomba E., Russell C. T. (2014). The contamination of the surface of Vesta by impacts and the delivery of the dark material. Icarus240, 86-102.
  • Russell S. S, Joy K. H., Jeffries T. E., CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Anton Kearsley A. (2014). Heterogeneity in lunar anorthosite meteorites: implications for the lunar magma ocean model. Philosophical Transactions A, 372A, id. 20120241.
  • CONSOLMAGNO G. J., Golabek G. J., Turrini D., Jutzi M., Sirono S., Svetsov V., Tsiganis K. (2015). Is Vesta an intact and pristine protoplanet? Icarus 254, 190-201.

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