Fred Watson says he spent so many years working in large telescope domes that he has started to look like one. He is now the Head of Lighting and Environment working closely with the community to preserve the dark skies of Coonabarabran. Previously, Fred was the Astronomer in Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory at Coonabarabran, where his main scientific interest was gathering information on very large numbers of stars and galaxies. He is also an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland.
Fred is well-known for his astronomy slots on ABC radio, and his books including “Stargazer – the Life and Times of the Telescope”, “Why is Uranus Upside Down? and Other Questions About the Universe”, (which won the 2008 Queensland Premier’s Literary Prize for Science Writing) and the ABC’s blockbuster, “Universe”, for which he was chief consultant.
In January 2013, launched his most recent “Star-Craving Mad, Tales from a Travelling Astronomer” featuring many highlights from his recent journeys around the world, exploring points of astronomical interest, and in 2014, he launched a series of light-hearted science lectures called Fred Watson Presents.
In 2003, Fred received the David Allen Prize for communicating astronomy to the public, and in 2006 was the winner of the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. In January 2010, Fred was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to astronomy, particularly the promotion and popularisation of space science through public outreach.
Fred has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits the Earth, it won’t be his fault…