I’m Antonio Martin Carrillo, doctor in astrophysics at University College Dublin in Ireland, and founder of Skywonders, a project aimed at teaching astrophotography and the science behind the shapes and colours of different celestial objects.
Currently I combine my work in the university, where I lecture astrophysics and do research, with outreach and astrophotography.
My research focuses on the search for the counterpart in gamma rays and visible light, of the gravitational wave detections made by LIGO and VIRGO. I also study the emission of gamma-ray bursts which mark the death of massive stars, pulsars and other variable objects.
When lecturing, I am a firm believer of the use of analogies, examples and live demonstrations to help grasping the most complicating concepts. It is quite common to see me carrying some special kit on my hands when I lecture at the university of during my astrophotography courses, to explain physical phenomena.
My final goal is not just limited to teaching how to do astrophotography, but to introduce people to the wonderful world of astrophysics in a pleasant and accessible way, regardless of the level of prior knowledge.
In addition to my workshops on astrophotography, I have a weekly podcast where I give advice on astrophotography, astrophysics and anything space related. In social networks I share all my images with all the information on how I made them so that people can try them for themselves.
My passion for astronomy began when I was 8 years old. One of the questions I always asked myself as a kid was: “why do astronomers care about these beautiful images?” I knew they had to be important for a reason, but everybody seemed to just share them without actually explaining the story that they were telling us. I actually had to go through all my degree in Astronomy to get a full answer to my question. Is that because it was really difficult? Not really! The problem is that we think our images have such a big effect on people that we tend to forget about everything else.
That is why I felt that a project like this was necessary. A project to talk about why sometimes a galaxy shows red dots and why sometimes it doesn’t, for example. What does it really mean? Is it important? When should I expect to see it? People talk about filters or about modifying DSLRs so they can capture more infrared light (mostly the line of Hydrogen alpha). But why? What does it really mean? Why is that important? When should we care about Hydrogen alpha? Knowing the answers to these and other similar questions will help us get better astro-images and will expand our knowledge of the Universe.