The scientific and cultural heritage of Angelo Secchi SJ

The National Committee for the bicentenary of the birth of Angelo Secchi SJ, established by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities in December 2017 on the initiative of the Academy and INAF, has made a significant contribution to the rediscovery of the multifaceted figure of the eminent scholar, also through the enhancement of the historical heritage left by him, highlighting the quality of Italian astronomy and other sciences, which started from his studies and discoveries.

At the end of the activity, the results obtained by the Committee will be presented on Tuesday 29 March 2022 at the headquarters of the Academic Library in Villa Torlonia in Rome.

Angelo Secchi (1818-1878) is the latest in a long series of Jesuit scientists who trained and worked at the Roman College, and, at the same time, he is the first representative of a new scientific tradition that is still alive today in the field of modern astrophysical research, in Italy and around the world. Considered the founder of Stellar Astrophysics, Angelo Secchi paved the way for modern research on stellar atmospheres and his contribution was fundamental for understanding the evolution of stars. He was also among the first to study cometary spectra and the first to observe the spectrum of the planet Uranus. He is considered one of the founders of solar physics, thanks to his studies on the photosphere and chromosphere of the Sun, which made it possible to analyze the characteristics of sunspots and to identify solar protuberances as phenomena belonging to the sun. His work The Unity of Physical Forces (1864) was an extraordinary success in terms of editions and translations, and contributed significantly to the circulation of the modern theories of physics of that time, overcoming the Aristotelian vision still held in those years, from the more conservative fringe of Catholic culture. In addition to the relevant studies in the field of meteorology and geodesy, one cannot fail to mention the Secchi disk, an instrument for measuring the degree of transparency of water, still in use today.


Given the limited number of seats in the hall, the event will be broadcast online. Registration at is required for attendance. For access to the Library, in addition to the possession of the Super Green Pass, it is required to wear respiratory protection devices type FFP2.