Monday, August 08, 2005
From Red Nova , the closest star to our solar system is Proxima Centauri, the red star in the center of the image. It's extremely faint, so the exposure also reveals lots of brighter, more distant stars.
Not to spoil this peaceful image, but the Jesuit head of the Vatican Observatory (a fairly senior post in the hierarchy) has publicly and robustly contradicted Cardinal SchÃ¶nborn's pro-Intelligent Design editorial. I think Catholic astronomers-- Galileo's heirs-- feel a special obligation to avoid getting theology injected into science matters. Read this for a more recent take on the chronology of Galileo's suppression, and Pope John Paul II's role, with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in rehabilitating Galileo.
Fr. Coyne's editorial (registration required) is here .