Spring Graduation: Galaxy is 'over the moon' with degree

For some students, deciding the best course to enrol on can be a worry; a weighty, earthly burden.

For others, like Galaxy Nova Salo – it’s simply written in the stars.

With a name like that, Astrophysics was surely a no-brainer – and so it proved for the young American from Seattle, Washington.

Galaxy has recently completed the LJMU Masters in Astrophysics and is due to graduate on Monday, 15 April with a cohort of around 15 coursemates, many studying, appropriately, by distance learning!

So, which came first, the name or the interest in Space?

“I chose my first and middle names myself. I am nonbinary and wanted a more gender-neutral name, and I was inspired by my interest in astrophysics. It just hit me one day that my name could be Galaxy, and I have used it in the few years since. I changed it legally about two years ago and am very happy with that decision." 

Galaxy says they were inspired by The Elegant Universe, a book by Brian Greene, which posits that to really understand physics you need to learn the math involved and as they always enjoyed math in school, the physics degree was a natural choice.

The problem with the Bachelor’s degree was that it didn’t really delve too far out into astrophysics, so Galaxy says the LJMU Master's was “a great next step”.

“I love space science, there are so many new frontiers. One of the most interesting things I learned during the astrophysics course was that gamma ray bursts were discovered by accident! They were found by devices designed to detect nuclear testing in space. It makes you wonder what else we can find unintentionally! 

“The LJMU program was definitely a challenge, but one that I immensely enjoyed. I learned so much, and am more confident in the skills required for scientific research. Despite being a fully online course, I felt a great connection to my classmates. We learned a lot from each other, and my collaborations with them helped me enjoy the program even more.” 

Galaxy is hoping to do a PhD “in the fall” (autumn for us Brits!) and pursue a career teaching Astrophysics at university.

“Whatever I end up doing, I have high hopes for my future”, they say.

Look out for the name!  - Galaxy* Nova** Salo.

You can follow next week’s ceremonies on a live feed on the LJMU website – ljmu.ac.uk/graduation and see your course-mates graduate. The Astrophysics ceremony is Monday 15th April 3.45pm GMT.


*A galaxy is a system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter bound together by gravity. The word is derived from the Greek galaxias, literally 'milky', a reference to the Milky Way galaxy that contains the Solar System.

 **A nova is a transient astronomical event that causes the sudden appearance of a bright, apparently "new" star (hence the name "nova", Latin for "new") that slowly fades over weeks or months. 

Astrophysics at LJMU

LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute is one of the world’s leading authorities in astronomy and astrophysics.  We are currently building the world’s largest fully robotics telescope the Liverpool Telescope, sited on the Canary Islands. Find out more about astrophysics or studying the subject at LJMU here.







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