The Vatican was enthusiastic for the moon landing and space exploration.
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The Papacy remained intensely interested in geography and astronomy for scientific and political as well as theological reasons, and when as a result of Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the world (1519-1522), it was discovered that when traveling around the world one gains or loses a day, it was considered so important that a special delegation was sent to the Pope to explain this.
A Catholic priest, Father Nicholas Zucchi, invented the reflecting telescope. Among the many great Catholic clerical astronomers Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first asteroid, Ceres, in 1801, and established the observatory at Palermo. Piazzi also obtained modern equipment and instruments for it, and converted Palermo from a backwater in poverty-stricken and ignorant Sicily to a great center for astronomy, a position it has maintained ever since, later being involved with the first imaging X-ray astrophysics. Despite being a Catholic priest and indeed a Professor of Dogmatic Theology in Rome, in 1788 Piazzi traveled to England to work with the astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, a Protestant minister, and the famous instrument-maker Ramsden. A little before this a Jesuit mathematician, R. G. Boscovich, had played a key role in charting the way to modern nuclear physics. In the 20th century a Catholic priest and scientist, Fr. Georges Lemaître, discovered the Big Bang. (He was concerned that it not be used as an argument to prove the existence of God, which he held should be a matter of faith.)
It is also said that Father George Coyne, a previous director of the Vatican Observatory, applied for astronaut training in the 1960s. His provincial is said to have muttered, “If I let you become an astronaut, George, every priest will want to.”
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