I found I wanted to be an astronomer when I was a little boy. I remember I was about four, and I stayed behind looking to the night sky, as I always used to do while my father was parking the car. That day, I saw a star different from the others, one slowly moving in a straight line. I asked my father what it was, but he said I was probably dreaming and pulled me into the inside of the house. It took me three or four years to find in a book that the star I saw was an artificial satellite. I felt so thrilled! It still is one of the strongest memories I keep from my childhood.
The passion about Astronomy increased over the years. I kept drinking inspiration from books, mainly from Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, and from TV documentaries and series, like Cosmos. At 18 I decided to study Astronomy at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto. I interrupted my degree after the first year to study music (a great passion in my life), while I worked in the Planetarium of Porto and lectured classical guitar, physics and mathematics. I also made part of an astronomy outreach project named GIRA, which was very active in Portugal for about six years. A few years later, I finished my degree as an Erasmus student, at the National University of Ireland, Galway. After returning to Porto, I started my Doctoral Programme and in February 2009 I left to Garching, Germany, to develop my thesis at ESO, in the VLTI group. I’m currently finishing it in Porto (Portugal), and the subject relates to interferometry and star formation.
While in Germany, I was introduced to the team of GalileoMobile and I immediately felt in love with the project. I truly believe that science is a powerful way to inspire people and awaken the critical thinking and curiosity, and that this can lead the world to a better place. Therefore, I think it is of utmost importance to shorten the gap between the technical scientific knowledge and the society, not only because knowledge is the first product of research in pure sciences like Astronomy, but also because the work developed by astronomers is directly or indirectly sponsored by governments (in this sense, outreach should be on the list of duties of a researcher). GalileoMobile seemed to be a beautiful opportunity to inspire kids, especially those that usually do not have access to outreach programmes. After more than three years making part of the team, I learnt many lessons on the professional and personal level, and I keep uncountable good memories of the experiences I lived so far with the project (the week I spent in Bolivia in the 2009 trip, for instance, will always be in my heart).
But the most important of all, were the friends I met. In my spare time, I play the guitar, sing in a choir, dance Lindy Hop, play sports and I do volunteering with an autistic kid, using the Son-Rise programme. Every time I can, I ride my bike and I travel (two other passions in my life).
My name is Nuno, by the way, and I come from a little town south of Porto, named Fiães.