Vatican Names New Telescope "Lucifer"!
That title sure catches your attention doesn't it? It did mine. I found this information on facebook. The latest breeding ground for anti-Catholic hate speech. Lately I have been spending a fair amount of time in this dark world of fb attempting to dispel the myths and false accusations against the Church. One of the pages I frequented until they banned me was called "Catholics Are Not Christians" and "Catholicism is a Cult." That's where this title is from.
These two fb groups are created by a fundamentalist businessman from Alpharetta, Georgia and his two sons. He was unwise enough to use his full name on the page and a few clicks on Google revealed his "off-line" business and location. To say they are anti-Catholic would be a gross understatement. I have yet to see this degree of vitriol and vile spewed out against the bride of Christ. They uses images of the KKK and Nazi Germany in an attempt to foment hatred towards the Church. They also circulate 100 year old "stories" that have been published in this country in the 1800-1900's in many newspapers, that were fabrications aimed at demeaning the Church. The story of Maria Monk is one and Chalotte Heckler another. Both proven many times over as complete fabrications.
One of the latest rumors that this businessman is circulating is that the Vatican has constructed a brand new hi-tech telescope in Arizona that they named Lucifer. They claim that this telescope is operated by Jesuit priests (cue the mysterious eeeevil music here) and to top this off, it is all built on an ancient Indian burial ground.(Actually, most of Arizona is an Indian burial ground but I digress) Mr. Farris is trying to say that these evil Jesuits have purposely named the telescope after Satan because, well after all, everyone knows they are satanists, right? No!
After a few more clicks with Google, turns out none of this is true. The Vatican Observatory Foundation has owned a telescope on Mount Graham in Arizona since the 1980's. It is one of the few places left on earth that doesn't have too much light pollution and perfectly low humidity to operate one of these fancy telescopes which detect infra-red frequencies. Their telescope is called VATT. Recently a consortium of astronomers from Germany, Italy and the US constructed a new and different telescope using a special hi-tech camera dubbed LUCIFER. It's name is an acronym for: Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research. These astronomers have no connection to the Vatican. The only possible connection is that they share the top of Mount Graham where many other groups have observatories located because of the desirable characteristics mentioned above. How about the Jesuit connection? They always seem to show up in the Jack Chick comic books and internet legends like these. The poor Jesuits! Turns out, that the director of the Vatican Observatory is a PhD astronomer who is on staff at the University of Arizona. No relationship to the LUCIFER Telescope. Darn!
Why did I even bother? Well, I hope and believe there is still some goodness left in these people and appealing to that goodness may reach them. By showing them the falsity of these stories, perhaps they will at least agree to not perpetuate lies. But then again, maybe I'm wrong.
Just to document to my readers, I didn't fabricate my story, I wrote to one of the scientist listed on the LUCIFER web page site and this is our correspondence.
Date: Wed, 12 May 2010 18:25:53 -0400
To: Daniel Stolte <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: LUCIFER TELESCOPE and Catholicism
Dear Mr. Stolte:
Sorry to take your time with this, but I have been reading across the internet that the Vatican has purchased and named the new telescope Lucifer. Of course they are trying to link Catholicism with the devil. My understanding is that the Vatican Observatory Organization has no financial or controlling interest whatsoever in the new LBT telescope. An article in Popular Science magazine made the spurious connection and an internet legend was born.
Thanks so much
Russ Rentler, M.D.
Dear Dr. Rentler,
Thank you for your email and your interest. I can ease your concerns – the Vatican Observatory has nothing to do with the LUCIFER project. LUCIFER is merely an acronym given to the instrument to shorten its name ( Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research). The instrument and all of its components are run by a consortium of astronomy researchers based in Germany. It is a mere coincidence that the Large Binocular Telescope, which houses the LUCIFER instrument, happens to be on the same location as the Vatican Observatory’s telescope (Mount Graham in Southeastern Arizona), but that is a different device and there is no connection to the Large Binocular Telescope or the LUCIFER instrument.
Hoping to have helped end the rumors and Yours sincerely,
Daniel Stolte --
Daniel Stolte, M.S.
The University of Arizona
888 N Euclid Ave. Rm. 413
P.O. Box 210158
Tucson, AZ 85721-0158
Phone (520) 626-4402
Fax (520) 626-4121 UANews is available at: http://uanews.org