Michael R. Merrifield is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Nottingham. In his research, he studies the structure of galaxies in order to try and understand how these collections of hundreds of billions of stars formed in the first place, and how they came to acquire the beautiful structures that we see today. In addition to making observations using telescope facilities around the world and in space, he also works on the theory of galaxy evolution, trying to understand the complex orbits that stars and gas follow within these systems.
He has a longstanding interest in the representation of astronomical objects in art, and discovered that this crystal glass technology provides an ideal medium for making attractive yet accurate representations of astronomical objects. His first sculpture drew on his experience in studying galaxies to produce a model of the Milky Way, and he has subsequently drawn on the expertise of colleagues from across the world to produce the Guinness World Record breaking “map of the Universe”, and new additions to the collection have since been added.
His other artistic endeavours have included working on an art gallery exhibit of large reproductions of Hubble Space Telescope images, and acting as a technical consultant on Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror project. He is a regular speaker at Cafés Scientifiques, astronomical societies, and other popular science venues. More recently, he has been reaching larger audiences by being one of the scientists featured fairly regularly in the Sixty Symbols and Deep Sky Videos YouTube channels.