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Friday, June 13, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 13, 2003 (VIS) - The Ninth Vatican Observatory Summer School in Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics will take place at observatory headquarters in the summer papal residence at Castelgandolfo from June 15 to July 11 on "Observations and Theoretical Understanding of Galaxy Evolution: From the Local Universe to the Distant Universe."

According to a communique from the observatory, 26 young scholars from 20 different countries will be in Rome for the 2003 summer session. The selection for this biennial event was made by the principal faculty of the school and the observatory director, Fr. George V. Coyne, S.J., from more than 200 applications.

The Vatican provides the fifteen students from developing countries with scholarships that cover at least 75 percent of the total costs of the school, including travel and room and board. The purpose of the school is to help young people at the beginning of their program of higher studies to develop quality research careers which will be nourished by interchange on an international scale. Many of the students who participated in the previous eight summer sessions have either completed or are now pursuing studies or post-graduate research at renowned institutions. The Jesuit community of the Vatican Observatory has provided scholarships to seven of the students from developing countries to pursue their graduate studies.

Two lectures will be given each morning, with evening seminars by the Vatican staff and visiting astronomers. During the summer course, students will also present a short paper on their research or the research of their home institution. Other activities will include laboratory exercises, use of the Observatory computers for data reduction and image processing, and use of astronomical databases. No formal course credits will be given, but certification of satisfactory completion of the course will be supplied. Courses will be taught in English.

Ambassadors to the Holy See from each of the countries represented are invited to visit the school and to have lunch with the participants.

Though the Vatican Observatory is headquartered in Castelgandolfo, in 1981, when the skies of Rome became too bright for the observatory, for the first time in its history it founded a second research center, the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), in Tucson, Arizona in the United States, one of the world's largest and most modern centers for observational astronomy. In 1993, in collaboration with Steward Observatory, the Vatican Observatory completed the construction of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) on Mt. Graham, Arizona, considered the best astronomical site in the Continental United States.

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