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THE COMING GREAT DECEPTION—PART 5: The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope

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You have probably been wondering about the “advanced technology” in the acronym VATT; in that regard, when it comes to high-end telescopes, power comes down to the primary mirror. The Steward Observatory Mirror Lab also had its impetus around 1980 with the backyard experimentation by Professor Roger Angel. Melting his own ovenware in a homemade kiln, he pioneered the use of Pyrex glass, employing a honeycomb structure for crafting superior quality telescope mirrors. The honeycomb design allows the lab to produce lightweight, yet extremely rigid, mirrors of unprecedented size. Using spin-casting techniques and a special polishing process, the Steward lab produces superior mirrors. Some have suggested this innovation was fueled by more than astronomical ambitions.

While science and technology afford us great luxury and convenience, they also bring us nuclear weapons and mustard gas. Jeffrey St. Clair, writing for Counter Punch, reports a little-known connection to the infamous Star Wars Defense Initiative: “The giant mirrors that power the Mt. Graham scopes have also been touted for their dual use nature: both as stargazers and as a potential component in the Star Wars scheme, wherein the mirrors would reflect laser-beam weapons on satellites and incoming missiles.”[i] While it is unknown (and likely classified) whether the military industrial complex is secretly using the Steward Lab for space weapons, it has had prodigious success.

The first production test of the Steward lab in 1985 was a 1.83-meter mirror that was subsequently offered to the VORG in exchange for an agreement to share a quarter of its viewing time with the school. In astronomy, viewing time on a state-of-the-art instrument is a precious commodity, and you won’t find anyone sleeping at night on top of Mt. Graham. The VORG represents another novel nocturnal species inhabiting the “Sky Island.”

The VATT is a Gregorian telescope, a type of reflecting telescope designed by Scottish mathematician and astronomer, James Gregory, in the seventeenth century. Nearly all major telescopes in use (including the Hubble Space Telescope) are reflecting telescopes. A reflecting telescope uses a concave mirror to capture and focus the rays of light, reflecting it to another mirror and then to a magnifying lens or electronic instrument (like LUCIFER). They are the first choice for professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, and hobbyists. They will all tell you, “size matters” —mirror size, that is. In order to see deeper into space and farther back in time, it is necessary to collect as much light as possible; of course, the fainter the light, the farther the object and the older the light. “Back in time?” you might balk. Indeed, for example, it takes light eight minutes to travel from our sun to the Earth, so we don’t see the sun as it really is; rather, we see it how it was eight minutes ago. This applies even more to the night sky. The next closest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.22 light years away. That means if it were to burn out, we would not even know about it until more than four years later. In this way, telescopes literally facilitate looking back in time, and the bigger the mirror, the more light can be gathered and the farther back into the cosmic past we can see. So, what are they looking for up there?

Given its superior optics and location, VATT has been used primarily for imaging and photometric work where it regularly outclasses much larger telescopes. The facility is celebrated for its discovery of Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects (MACHOs) in the Andromeda Galaxy. A MACHO is a body that emits little or no radiation and drifts through interstellar space on its own. Since these bodies do not emit any light of their own, they are very hard to detect, and VATT’s optics are ideal. They include black holes, neutron stars, brown dwarfs, and planets not associated with a system. MACHOs are one possible way to explain the mysterious presence of dark matter in the universe. As discussed in chapter 13, “The Extradimensional Hypothesis,” braneworld theory, as proposed by Paul Steinhardt of the Princeton University Astrophysics Department, suggests that dark matter may indeed evidence a parallel universe, and black holes could be portals connecting our universe to the unknown. Do these heralded discoveries of dark matter in the Andromeda Galaxy suggest that the Jesuits really are looking for ET? Many journalists think so.

Just days before VATT went into operation, Coyne granted interviews and the subsequent press from that time is rather astonishing. For example, Bruce Johnston of the London Daily Telegraph, a conservative newspaper with a good reputation, reported on October 28, 1992, that the “Vatican Sets Evangelical Sights on Outer Space”:

THE Roman Catholic Church is to team up with America’s space agency to look for life in outer space and so spread the Gospel to extraterrestrials.

Jesuit priests who run the Vatican Observatory near Rome say they are joining forces with the US NASA agency to hunt for UFOs and signs of life on planets in solar systems similar to Earth’s.

NASA’s job will be to monitor for “alien” communication signals; the Vatican, which has helped to build a new reflector telescope in Tucson, Arizona, would search for planets displaying conditions for life.…

Should intelligent alien life be found, Fr. Coyne said, “the Church would be obliged to address the question of whether extraterrestrials might be brought within the fold and baptized.”[ii]

It goes without saying that these salacious claims sparked a storm of speculation. Why did he make these statements just days before VATT’s official launch? Coyne appears to have been quite serious. The assertion concerning VATT’s partnership with NASA was intentional and unqualified. A few months later, on January 8, 1993, Dr. Robin Silver of the Mt. Graham Coalition contacted NASA demanding an explanation. Freedom of Information Officer Patricia Riep-Dice responded, “NASA has no contact with either the Vatican Observatory or the Vatican Observatory Research Group.”[iii] Accordingly, someone is not being truthful. There are two possibilities: Either Coyne lied or he let the cat out of the bag. While NASA is notorious for obfuscation, why would Coyne lie about VATT working with NASA to find aliens? The VORG quickly went into damage-control mode. Speaking as vice director of the VORG, Chris Corbally explicitly denied teaming up with NASA to spread the Gospel to extraterrestrials. Even so, Coyne’s precedent frames more recent comments by Balducci, Consolmagno, and Funes in an eerie new light. Perhaps their so-called speculations are meant to prepare mankind for disclosure? If so, we believe it will be the strong delusion predicted in biblical prophecy.


Speaking of delusions of grandeur, the grandest of all is attributed to Satan: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). The taunt song found in Isaiah 14:12–15 is where the popular name for the devil, Lucifer, is derived from the Hebrew phrase “הילל בן־שׁחר” (Helel Ben-Shachar) in verse 12, meaning “morning star, son of dawn.” This name has been interpreted to be varying entities but there is a good case for the traditional understanding as the devil. In its original context, scholars agree that this is related to Ugaritic mythology concerning Baal and Athtar.[iv] While Isaiah could be simply borrowing from local mythology for an illustration, it seems as if the prophet sees through the King of Babylon to the wicked spiritual power behind him. Psalm 82 and the book of Daniel suggest that earthly kingdoms have cosmic overlords (Daniel 10:13; 20), a paradigm which fits nicely with the Beast of Revelation who is similarly empowered by the great red dragon identified as Satan (Revelation 12:9; 13:2).

In Ugaritic lore this usurper is argued to be Athtar, who was referred to as Venus (morning star), who seeks to displace Baal.[v] Other scholars relate this passage to an ancient Babylonian or Hebrew star-myth, similar to the Greek legend of Phaethon.[vi]  Even so, one can imagine that, in a cosmic sense, all of these myths stem from a common netherworld event. The New Testament is clear that angels rebelled (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9) and the Earth is currently under the power of a usurper (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19). While the King of Babylon could hardly hope to “ascend to heaven above the stars of God” it certainly speaks to his extreme hubris. Author C. S. Lewis famously said, “It was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[vii] Helel Ben-Shachar’s frustrated divine ambition harkens the account of a war in heaven in Revelation 12:7–17 where Satan is thrown to Earth suggesting commonality with “the man who made the Earth tremble” (Isaiah 14:16).

During the intertestamental period, this account of the angels’ fall associated with the morning star was subsequently associated explicitly with the name Satan, as seen the second Book of Enoch (29:4; 31:4). Accordingly, the association of Lucifer to Satan continued with the church fathers because he is represented as being “cast down from heaven” (Revelations 12:7–10; cf. Luke 10:18). For example, Origen wrote, “Again, we are taught as follows by the prophet Isaiah regarding another opposing power. The prophet says, ‘How is Lucifer, who used to arise in the morning, fallen from heaven!”’[viii] Thus, prior to the Vulgate it was already being applied to the devil. It seems there is a good historical case for applying the name Lucifer to the devil.



Did the Vatican really name its telescope Lucifer? Actually, there is an astronomical instrument with that name, but the VORG’s association with the LUCIFER instrument is alleged to be only by proximity. The Jesuits deny any part in the naming of the infernal instrument adjacent to VATT. It appears that their consortium partners, the Germans from the odious Max Planck Institute (a group that gave assistance to the murderous experiments of Nazi scientist Dr. Mengele in the 1940s[ix]), are responsible for the satanic allusion.

Chelsea Schilling, a reporter for World Net Daily, called the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University and spoke to a Roman Catholic astronomer, Andreas Quirrenbach, who denied that the name Lucifer from Isaiah 14 had any real association to the devil, arguing, “This is due mostly to a misreading of the relevant biblical verses. However, these misreadings have propagated into folklore.”[x] While centuries of Catholic scholars would disagree, he then contradicts himself by admitting the device was named after a German politician who is literally named after the devil. According to the WND article:

“Now, as it happens, the name of this governor is Teufel, which is the German word for ‘devil,’” Quirrenbach explained. “Again, absolutely no offense to anyone; this is a fairly common name in Germany. So to those familiar with the local state politics in Southwest Germany, it is plainly obvious that the two Lucifer instruments are named in honor of Teufel, who helped the state observatory become a member of the LBT.”[xi]

What makes Quirrenbach’s explanation odd is that, on one hand, he argues that Lucifer in Isaiah 14 is not really about the devil, but on the other hand, he says it was named after a German politician whose name literally means “devil” or “demon” according to a German dictionary.[xii] Apparently, they named it after the devil regardless of Isaiah 14.

At a minimum, they went to extravagant lengths to force the diabolic name into an acronym. Although the Jesuit we encountered denied it, it seems likely they were taking a shot at their Jesuit neighbors. Rather than its satanic sibling, VATT employs another sophisticated instrument called the Cornell Massachusetts Slit Spectrograph (CorMASS), which serves a similar function to LUCIFER on the LBT. This near-infrared spectrograph is ideal for confirming brown dwarf stars and has likely contributed to VATT’s discovery of new MACHOs. While VATT is impressive, it sits in the shadow of the most powerful telescope on the planet, which does employ LUCIFER.

The Large Binocular Telescope

As Putnam, Joe Ardis, and I strolled up the gravel road toward the monstrosity housing the Large Binocular Telescope, we saw the scorched black landscape through the few remaining trees, evidence of the wildfires that nearly reached the observatory on more than one occasion. Consequently, the Forest Service has taken measures to keep the telescopes out of harm’s way. The Indian lawsuit mentions several acres of trees that were clear-cut around the telescopes. According to our guide, during the last lightning-prompted fire, they performed a controlled burn near the LBT in order to prevent the wildfire from reaching the $87 million facility, the largest, most sophisticated optical telescope on Earth.

In the 1940s, the Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar Observatory in California was considered state of the art, with its 5.1-meter mirror. That world-class facility owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology has been used to discover distant objects at the edges of the known universe (called quasars) and thousands of asteroids. It is still an awesome telescope. In fact, using the old glass, only one other mirror was ever made topping its size: a six-meter monster for the BTA-6 Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Science. In contrast, the LBT on Mt. Graham boasts two 8.4-meter diameter mirrors for a total collecting area corresponding to a single circular mirror with a diameter of 11.8 meters! It’s over twice the size of the Hale. This explains why Mt. Graham International Observatory can see deeper into space and farther back in time than any other facility on Earth, and also why we suggest that if astrobiologists do discover an Earth-like exoplanet, Mt. Graham is probably where it will happen.

A main goal of the LBT program is to search for Earthlike planets and extraterrestrial life. The LBT is equipped especially for this purpose. For instance, most terrestrial observatories are limited because the Earth’s atmosphere acts like a lens that distorts ground telescope images. The LBT’s adaptive optics and interferometry help overcome such distortions. No one is looking through a peephole lens on a system like this; rather, the light is sent to high-tech, computer-controlled observing instruments. Because distant exoplanets are also obscured by dust and space debris, interferometry, a technique of superimposing wavelengths in order to filter the image, helps for detecting Earthlike planets orbiting other stars and then searching them for signs of life. The official LBT website states the project goal: “The key science objective is to survey nearby stars for debris disks down to levels which may obscure detection of Earth-like planets.”[xiii] Using its two mirrors in an adaptive manner, the LBT has even surpassed the Hubble Space Telescope’s sharpness. Each of the two mirrors is equipped with three single-beam instruments: a prime focus camera, an optical spectrograph (MODS), and a near-infrared instrument (LUCIFER).

The instrument infamously named LUCIFER (which the staff affectionately abbreviates to “Lucy”) is really nothing more than a fancy camera of sorts. As discussed above, it was named by the secular German scientists at the Max Planck Institute, not the Vatican group. While the device baptized after Old Scratch has inspired great speculation, it is a rather forced acronym for “LBT Near Infrared Spectroscopic Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research.” They went to exorbitant lengths to make it work.

Spectroscopy pertains to the dispersion of an object’s light into its component colors (i.e., energies or wavelength). By performing spectrographic analysis of an object’s light, astronomers can infer the physical properties of that object (such as temperature, mass, luminosity, and chemical composition). This is how they look for conditions favorable for life like the presence of liquid water, carbon, and oxygen. Infrared spectroscopy deals with the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum—that is, light with a longer wavelength and lower frequency than normal visible light. Because some organic compounds vibrate in such a way as to be detectable by infrared spectroscopy, LUCIFER is a valuable tool used in the quest for extraterrestrial life. When we toured the VATT, only one LUCIFER device was installed; the second is due in 2015 or so. So far, they have only been calibrating and testing the system; the actual search for ET life is expected to launch in earnest in early 2013.

From there, we moved next door to the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope, a huge, ten-meter dish owned by the Arizona Radio Observatory.

Will the Sub Ever Wow Us?

The Submillimeter Radio Telescope was the second of the three allowed by congressional fiat to be constructed, and it was inaugurated shortly after VATT in 1993. While radio waves lead us to immediately think of SETI, the sub’s range lies between infrared and radio, albeit overlapping a little into both. It is also employed in astrobiological research, since radio astronomy is the most powerful method for detecting individual chemical species. Radio telescopes have detected more than a hundred interstellar atoms, molecules, or fragments, including life-indicative compounds like acids, alcohols, aldehydes, and ketones. The Arizona Radio Observatory operates two radio telescopes in Southern Arizona (another outside of Tucson). Combined, the two telescopes routinely cover extremely short wavelength radio and far-infrared frequencies.

Whereas Lucifer handles near-infrared energy, far-infrared is a lower energy with a longer wavelength and may be used for rotational spectroscopy. Because it is a region of the spectrum where the electromagnetic waves are strongly diminished by water vapor or clouds in the air, the dryness of the air around and above Emerald Peak is optimal for far-infrared observations. This makes it ideal for rotational spectroscopy, which can detect interstellar glycine, the simplest amino acid, a building block for life. This telescope is used nine–ten months of the year, and it is nonoperational only when there is too much water vapor in the atmosphere, primarily during the summertime, as was the case during our visit.

The Submillimeter is currently being used in array of radio telescopes worldwide in an ambitious effort to take the first picture of the ever-elusive black hole.[xiv] If brane-world cosmology turns out to be accurate, a picture of a black hole could, in fact, “wow” us with evidence for a parallel universe!

The “Wow!” signal’s frequency of 1420 MHz is noteworthy to SETI researchers, because hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, resonates at about 1420 MHz. Consequently, it seems logical that extraterrestrials would use that frequency to transmit a strong signal across light years of space. Even more, 1420 MHz is a protected spectrum, meaning its bandwidth is forbidden for terrestrial transmissions due to its astronomical purposes. This makes it extremely unlikely that it was an Earth signal reflected back, as some skeptics have suggested. However, it has never been heard again… (That is, if the “powers that be” are telling us everything.)

Having a basic knowledge of how radio astronomy works makes then-acting VORG director George Coyne’s public statements in 1993 concerning the collaborative VORG/NASA ambitions to baptize ETs all the more inexplicable. Robert S. Michaelsen’s essay in the scholarly book American Sacred Space preserved some astounding assertions by the chief Jesuit astronomer. Drawing from interviews at the time of VATT’s inauguration, Michaelsen wrote:

Coyne envisions asking extraterrestrials contacted through the sub-millimeter radio frequency technology (built in phase one) if they had “ever experienced something similar to Adam and Eve, in other words, ‘original sin,’” and “Do you people also know Jesus who has redeemed you?”.… Apparently the sacred calling of the Mount Graham International Observatory extends beyond the quest for epiphanies to a willingness to spread the Gospel’s universal message.[xv]

As peculiar as it seems, Coyne apparently really said these things, and multiple news outlets represented him as being forthright. Accordingly, many researchers believe the Vatican is hiding knowledge about ET. If the VORG really wanted to disabuse us of the nefarious image they seem to inspire, they couldn’t do any worse than Coyne. Perhaps he was only having some fun, but his intent is still a matter that inspires intense speculation.

UP NEXT: Is the Sky Island a Dimensional Portal?

[i] Jeffrey St. Clair, “Star Whores: Astronomers vs. Apaches on Mount Graham,” Counter Punch, weekend ed., February 1–3, 2003,

[ii] Bruce Johnston, “Vatican Sets Evangelical Sights on Outer Space,” Daily Telegraph (London, October 28, 1992),

[iii] Correspondence, Freedom of Information Act Officer Patricia Riep, NASA, January 8, 1993, as cited in The Southwest Center for Biological Diversity News Advisory, December 2, 1997.

[iv] Michael S. Heiser, “The Mythological Provenance of Is. XVIV 12–15: A Reconsideration of the Ugaritic Material,” Vestus Testamentum LI, 3, (2001): 356–357.

[v] Ibid., 356–357.

[vi] Kaufmann Kohler, “Lucifer,” last accessed March 5, 2011,

[vii] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NY: Harper Collins. 2001), 122.

[viii] Origen, “Origen de Principiis” book 1, chapter 5, as quoted in: Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleveland Coxe, The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV :Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997), 259.

[ix]Alison Abbott, “Max Planck Society admits to its predecessor’s Nazi links” Nature 411, 726 (14 June 2001)

[x] Chelsea Schilling, “What the devil? Scientists Tap Power of ‘Lucifer’” World Net Daily, January 20, 2013,

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] “Teufel,” Reverso, last accessed January 29, 2013,

[xiii] “Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer,” LBTI, last accessed January 17, 2013,

[xiv] Daniel Stolte “Scientists Prepare to Take First-Ever Picture of a Black Hole,” UANews, September, 23, 2012,

[xv] David Chidester and Edward Tabor Linenthal, American Sacred Space (Religion in North America) (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1995), 126; viewable here:

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