Eclipse 2017 - Speakers

Fr. Christopher J. Corbally, S.J.

President of the National Committee for Astronomy, Vatican City State, International Astronomical Union


Fr. Chris Corbally S.J. was born near London in 1946 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1963. He completed the licentiate in philosophy at Heythrop College, Oxfordshire in 1968; his B.S. in physics at Bristol University in 1971; and his M.S. in astronomy at the University of Sussex (Brighton) in 1972. He was ordained in 1976, the year that he earned a B.D. in theology from Heythrop College, London, where he also gained a Pastoral Diploma in 1977.


After ordination, he obtained a PhD in astronomy at the University of Toronto (Canada) in 1983. Since then Fr. Corbally has been a research astronomer of the Vatican Observatory and was its Vice Director for the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson until 2012.


He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, the American Astronomical Society, the President of the National Committee for Astronomy in the Vatican City State for the International Astronomical Union. He was the president of the IAU's Division IV (Stars), 2009-2012. He is a member of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, for which he was president from 1999-2002.


His Presentation, "Taking Science Seriously and Talking to God,"
took place on Sunday, August 20, 2017 in the Nolan Gymnasium


Although it may sound strange to some, the Vatican has been officially participating in science for well over 400 years.  In this review of the Church's relationship with science, Fr. Corbally explored our grasp of the natural world and our reaching towards the mystery of its Creator.


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Fr. Paul Gabor, S.J.

Vice Director for the Vatican Observatory Research Group


Fr. Paul Gabor SJ was born in 1969 in Košice, Slovakia. He studied Particle Physics at Charles University Prague, Czech Republic (1988-1995). His work was primarily instrumental, participating in the development of the ATLAS detector for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland.


He entered the Society of Jesus in 1995, did his 2-year novitiate in Kolin, Czech Republic, then 2 years of Philosophy studies in Cracow, Poland. After this, he taught philosophy for a year in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and studied Theology in Paris, France. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2004. After ordination, he earned a PhD in astrophysics in 2009 in Paris, where he again opted for instrumentation, working with Alain Léger, the author of the proposed Darwin space observatory. Gabor's work under Alain Léger was carried out at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, University of Paris XI, focusing on two optical test beds, SYNAPSE and NULLTIMATE.


Fr. Gabor joined the Vatican Observatory in September 2010 and was assigned to the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson. He became its Vice Director in September 2012.


His Presentation, "Babylonians and the Leap Second: Precision Measurements of Earth's Rotation Rate," took place on Monday, August 21, 2017 in the Nolan Gymnasium


Fr. Gabor discussed the history and science of lunar and solar eclipses in his presentation. We have records of them starting with the Babylonian list of omens Enuma Anu Enlil. They were important in the development of the calendar, and the ancient records allow us to derive the history of how Earth's rotation rate varies. The combined efforts of astronomers spanning millennia yield precision measurements with surprising results.


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