Gianluca Masi is the Founder of The Virtual Telescope Project. He received his undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Rome La Sapienza and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. His initial scientific interests include the cosmological distance ladder issues and the determination of the Hubble Constant; late, he switched to search strategies for near-Earth Objects (NEOs), with special attention on those with orbits entirely inside Earths. For these activities, he was involved in the CINEOS project (at the Astronomical Observatory of Campo Imperatore). His current scientific activities include minor bodies in our Solar System (comets and asteroids, especially NEO), variable stars (mainly cataclysmic) and exoplanets. The asteroid (21795) is named “Masi” after him.
On August 1, 1997, Gianluca discovered his first variable star, close to the famous Dumbbell Nebula (M27). A few months later, he started doing astrometric observations of minor planets and comets, and eventually discovered (and co-discovered) a number of asteroids, exoplanets, and variable stars.
The Virtual Telescope Project is his latest effort. Its goal is to offer to everyone in the world a chance to look at the Universe, even to those without advanced instruments or resources, both for science and fun.