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Exploring Lunar Treasures at the Vatican Observatory

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Exploring Lunar Treasures at the Vatican Observatory

Vatican Observatory Launches Guided Tours Showcasing Rare Lunar Rocks and Meteorites

Castel Gandolfo, Vatican City – The Vatican Observatory, in conjunction with the Vatican Museums, is set to unveil a captivating series of guided tours from this Thursday, August 3. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to witness an extraordinary collection of lunar rocks, meteorite samples, as well as precious documents and artworks centered around the moon.

Astronomy experts at the observatory will lead guests in exploring the fascinating exhibits that shed light on the celestial body that has captured humanity’s curiosity for centuries. The exhibition hall will feature an array of photographs and display panels depicting the close relationship between successive popes and the observatory.

One remarkable photo from July 20, 1969, exhibits Pope Paul VI gazing at the moon through a telescope just hours before the historic Apollo 11 landing. Another image showcases the pontiff conveying a message of blessings to the brave astronauts. Furthermore, a captivating photo displays Pope Benedict XVI holding a handkerchief during his visit to a meteorite called Naikra, discovered in Egypt in 1911, which is believed to have originated from Mars.

In addition to showcasing these extraordinary artifacts, the Vatican Observatory will give visitors a glimpse into its rich historical background. Founded in the late 16th century under the patronage of Pope Gregory XIII, the observatory was initially established to aid in the reform of the calendar, a reform which went on to become widely adopted under his successor Pope Clement VIII. For over four decades, the Vatican Observatory operated within Vatican City. However, with the advent of electric lighting and the rising brightness of Rome’s night sky, the observatory faced challenges in studying faint stars. Consequently, Pope Pius XI took the decision to relocate the observatory to his summer residence, the Castle of Gandolph, in the early 1930s.

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Over the years, the Vatican Observatory has continued to thrive, establishing a secondary research center known as the “Vatican Observatory Research Group” in Tucson, Arizona, USA. In 1993, the observatory collaborated with the Steward Observatory to construct the state-of-the-art Vatican Telescope on Mount Graham, Arizona. Today, the Vatican Observatory collaborates with numerous international astronomical institutions, proudly being a member of the International Astronomical Union and the International Network of Centers for Relativistic Astrophysics. Since 1986, the observatory has also been organizing the acclaimed Astronomy Summer School in Castel Gandolfo.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to journey into space and explore the marvels of the moon. The guided tours will be available for the public starting Thursday, August 3, at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo. For more information, visit the official website of the Vatican Museums at www.vaticannews.cn.

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