24 January 2019, The Tablet

Astronomy – as it is in the heavens

Astronomy – as it is in the heavens

Astronomy confounds your common sense even as it seduces you with its beauty

The idea came out of the blue. A diocesan priest from rural Wisconsin, Fr James Kurzynski, wrote to ask: Did the Vatican Observatory run workshops on astronomy for parish priests? No, I replied. But we ought to. Thus our biennial Faith and Astronomy Workshop was born. We’ve just concluded our fourth one.

With other members of the Vatican Observatory and, most importantly, Fr James himself, the initial idea had taken shape. First the basics: start Monday, end Friday, when the weather in Tucson is not blazing hot and parish priests aren’t overwhelmed with work at home. That meant January. Limit the numbers to two dozen or so, open to anyone who is an educator in a Catholic setting. And finally, keep the “work” in “workshop”: make them come up with the questions … and the answers.

Our goal is to teach the teachers about what astronomy actually is … how astronomers work and think. Anyone can read an astronomy website but none of them look quite the same once you have lived with astronomers in their native habitat for a few days. With that experience, the teachers can work out for themselves how astronomers tick.

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