It is difficult to summarize in a few tabs of a virtual exhibition a life and a scientific activity like that of Angelo Secchi, a pioneer of modern research in astrophysics and meteorology. The Jesuit astronomer lived at a crucial moment in Italian history and gave numerous and important contributions in various disciplines Scientific among the many difficulties related to the Risorgimento events and the conflicting relations between the Italian state and the church.
Yet, it seemed dutyful to do so, to pay the right recognition to a little known and often forgotten figure, despite buckets being “the principal and most eminent Italian astronomer of his time,” as the famous colleague Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli called it.
The occasion is given by the anniversary of the bicentenary of the birth of Angelo Secchi. Among the many initiatives planned to commemorate the illustrious astronomer and the significant imprint he transmitted in the various scientific fields in which he worked, the National Committee for the bicentenary of the birth of Angelo Secchi also provided for the realization of a virtual exhibition that tells of the personal and scientific life of the astronomer of Reggio Emilia.
The exhibition “Between Heaven and Earth” is just a cross-section of the rich historical-scientific heritage that Secchi has left us and certainly does not want to exhaust the numerous biographical and scientific aspects that remain to be explored.
We hope therefore that it will arouse interest and curiosity in the scholars as in the common citizens, in the students as in the historians, and that it can be of stimulus to deepen the knowledge of this extraordinary “father” of the Italian Science of the nineteenth century.
We thank the many colleagues and the many institutions that have collaborated in the realization of the exhibition and have joined us in this company, which we would like to remain “in progress” for the next three years, to give way to how many others will want to contribute (academies , libraries, private citizens, etc.) to enrich the exhibition with new contents and materials related to the sky and the land of Angelo Secchi.
Ileana Chinnici and Mauro Gargano
Curators of the exhibition