A new instrument with an evil-sounding name is helping scientists see how stars are born. Lucifer, which stands for (deep breath) “Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research,” is a chilled instrument attached to a telescope in Arizona. And yes, it’s named for the Devil, whose name itself means “morning star.” But it wasn’t meant to evoke him, according to a spokesman for the University of Arizona, where it is housed.
Lucifer is part of the Large Binocular Telescope, which happens to be right next to the Vatican Observatory on Mt. Graham in Tucson. That’s right, the Vatican has an observatory in Arizona, manned by Jesuit astronomers. Now its next-door neighbor is named for the Devil.