Vatican Observatory

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March 31, 2006 - Friday - Our bus picks us up at 8pm from our hotel in Rome, and we proceed to Castel Gandolfo. Not only is this the Pope's retreat and summer home, it is also where the Jesuit Fathers run the Vatican Observatory from.  Castel Gandolfo is in a lovely location just a short distance outside Rome, and is built on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Fr. Sabino Maffeo gves us a personally escorted tour of the facility, mentioning that the modern facility was inaugurated in 1935.  Zeiss Jena optics are used exclusively for the telescopes found in this location.  Special cantilevered observing platforms were built for the telescopes.  If anyone is interested in a Schmidt 1m primary (60cm secondary) - take it away!  There are two domes on the roof and 2 more domes in the garden

The Vatican Observatory was mainly used to conduct spectro-chemical studies until recently.  The telescopes have not been used for the last 20 years from this location due to light pollution.  Their new telescope is located on Mt. Graham in Arizona using a binocular configuration

The Tower of Winds located in Vatican City allowed the accurate measurements to be made to calculate the Gregorian calendar, which is now the most-used calendar in the world.

RASC group in the inner courtyard, Castel Gandolfo

RASC group in the inner courtyard, Castel Gandolfo

Silhouette of a dome and the Orion constellation as seen from the roof of the Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo

Lago Albano and Marino, looking north toward the outskirts of Rome from the roof of the Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo

Fr. Sabino Maffeo explaining the operational features of the telescopes in one of the domes atop Castel Gondolfo to the RASC group

The skyglow of Rome overwhelms all but the Moon, as observed from the roof of the Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo

The Vatican Observatory possesses one of the best meteorite collections in the world

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