Astronomy Artist | U-M LSA U-M College of LSA


Salgado’s most recent project through KV 265 is a series of films about Aurora Borealis, those dazzling collisions between sun flares and the Earth’s magnetism known to most as the northern lights. Twice a year, Salgado goes to Yellowknife, Canada, to capture an unobstructed, photogenic view of the swirling colors in the sky. He already has produced a few films about the northern lights set to symphony music. “I’m running out of excuses to come to Yellowknife,” Salgado says, “so I’ve started offering tours there.” The tours Salgado leads are another way for him to spread his excitement and passion for astronomy, along with lessons in photography. “Creativity not only drives art—it drives science, as well,” he says. “You have to think creatively to solve a problem or explain something in nature.

“We’re a society that depends so much on science and technology, yet we don’t always understand it,” Salgado says. “In some parts of society, people mistrust science, even though they rely on it on a daily basis.” One solution to this disconnect, he’s convinced, is using music and film as non-intimidating ways to bring science to new audiences.

“Pardon the pun, but astronomy is universal. The sky is available to everyone,” says Salgado. “You can enjoy the night sky without knowing a single thing about what the heck is going on up there. You can see the northern lights and enjoy them without understanding the physics. That’s what most people do—they’re watching in awe.”

But it doesn’t have to stop there, he says. Using his camera as both a scientific instrument and an artistic tool, Salgado wants the stunning images he collects to stick with people. “This is hopefully the inspiration for you to actually learn more about what you’ve seen. There’s additional beauty in being able to understand and explain nature.”

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Photographs by José Francisco Salgado

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