Astronomer, Writer, Science Communicator
Fred Watson says he's spent so many years working in large telescope domes that he has started to look like one. He has been an astronomer at the Australian Astronomical Observatory since 1995, and his main scientific interest is in the use of novel technology to gather information on very large numbers of stars and galaxies. Until 2009, Fred was based at the AAO's telescopes in Coonabarabran, where he was Astronomer in Charge. He is now the Australia's Astronomer at Large with Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, working closely with state and Federal government scientists and communicators.
Fred has adjunct professorships at the University of Western Sydney, University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, 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 include "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, Fred launched his most recent book "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...