The Impact of Asteroids

Feb 24, 2021
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Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJVatican Observatory

This event is presented by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame as part of The Steno Lectures; Discussions at the Intersection of Faith and Science and co-sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute, the Society of Catholic Scientists, and the Harvard Catholic Forum.  

As the human race increasingly covers planet Earth, we are providing an ever-growing target for the regular impacts of near-Earth objects. What are the odds that impactors from space will do major damage to human life on Earth? What’s the underlying science? And what are the larger implications for  our place in the universe?


Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, is Director of the Vatican Observatory and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he earned undergraduate and masters' degrees from MIT, and a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona. He was researcher at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and taught university physics, before entering the Jesuits in 1989. At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, his research explores connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies, measuring meteorite physical properties in Castel Gandolfo and observing distant asteroids with the Vatican's telescope in Arizona. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of six popular books including Turn Left at Orion (with Dan Davis), and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestial? (with Paul Mueller, SJ). Brother Guy Consolmagno is a member of the Society of Catholic Scientists.