Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope Discovers a New Trans-Neptunian Object - Sacred Space Astronomy
Sacred Space Astronomy Share: 2021 XD7 A trans-neptunian object has been discovered using the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope! The object was discovered on Dec. 3, 2021 – Jesuit Richard Boyle made the first observations, and analysis was done by Lithuanian astronomer and astrophysicist Kazimieras Černis.
Peter Veres of the IAU’s Minor Planet Center calculated the object’s orbit using these and subsequent observations by Boyle; Peter also happens to be an alumnus of the 2007 Vatican Observatory Summer School! The object has an orbital period of 286.98 years, with a perihelion of 35.26 AU, and an aphelion of 51.76 AU; as of this writing, it is 35.27 AU from the Sun – very close to perihelion. TNO 2021 XD7 By Robert Trembley
Pope Pius XI provided a new location for the Observatory at the Papal Summer Residence at Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills some 25 kilometers southeast of Rome. It is here that the modern observatory, entrusted to the Jesuits, was refounded in the 1930s with the construction of two new telescopes, the installation of an astrophysical laboratory for spectro-chemical analysis, and the expansion of several important research programs on variable stars. With the installation of a Schmidt wide-angle telescope in 1957 research was extended to other topics such as new techniques for the classification of stars according to their spectra. This is still an active program at the observatory and recalls the pioneering work of Angelo Secchi.