It is the season of Advent, a time when we look forward to the birth of Jesus. But it is also the end of the calendar year, and at the Specola Vaticana it is the season of our Annual Report. The astronomers and scholars of the Specola are busy writing synopses of the work they accomplished during 2023, and assembling lists of their publications, conferences attended, talks given, etc. The Specola’s annual reports are not only informative (providing a thorough overview of the yearly activities of the Specola) but also visually appealing, thanks to the design and layout talents of the Specola’s Antonio Coretti.
The 2023 Report will feature the work of the Specola’s Jesuit scientists, much of which has already been reported in here at “A RIVEDER LE STELLE” over the past months. But it will also cover the accomplishments and achievements of the other collaborators who work closely with us. These include Jesuits who are working elsewhere, in universities in Argentina and Canada; and other astronomers, men and women, religious and lay people, who contribute skills needed to keep the observatory in good order.
For example, it will include an overview from the Specola’s Technical Expert, Claudio Costa, about his ongoing work to restore our historical Carte du Ciel telescope. The telescope was constructed in the late nineteenth century so that the Specola could participate in the international Carte du Ciel photographic sky mapping project of that era. Now, thanks in large part to Costa, the telescope has found new life as an instrument for the pubic to view the moon and planets when visiting the Specola’s new visitor center at Castel Gandolfo, operated jointly with the Vatican museums. The telescope has been operational for some time, but Costa has been working on the cosmetics of the instrument (so that its appearance is similar to that seen in old photographs on display at the museum), and training others on how to use it with the public.
As a very different example, the 2023 Report will also include a report from Dante Minniti. He is one of 12 “adjunct” astronomers—not one of the Jesuits directly employed at the Specola, but someone who has an official affiliation with us and thus the rights to use our facilities for his scientific pursuits. Along with co-authoring more than 20 scientific papers, this year he helped to organize a workshop on “The VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea Extended Survey (VVVX) Exploitation & Future Infrared Synoptic Science”, held at the Specola in October and attended by twenty-two scientists from all over the world.
The 2023 Annual Report will be available early next year at the Specola’s on-line Annual Report repository: https://www.vaticanobservatory.va/en/publications/annual-report. Until then, you can peruse the reports from previous years. There you will read about how the Specola’s old photographs were digitally archived, discover what “PEPSI” means for the Specola (hint: not a carbonated beverage), learn how it weathered the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, or study the history of forty years of photometry at the Specola—and more, because the reports go back many years.
Have a blessed Advent.