Astronomer, Writer, Science Communicator, Illustrator
Fred Watson says he's spent so many years working in large telescope domes that he has started to look like one. He is Australia’s first Astronomer-at-Large in the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, having worked at both of Britain’s Royal Observatories before joining the Australian Astronomical Observatory as Astronomer-in-Charge in 1995.
Recognised internationally for helping to pioneer the use of fibre optics in astronomy during the 1980s, Fred is best known today for his award-winning radio and TV broadcasts, books, music, dark-sky advocacy and co-hosting the Space Nuts podcast.
Fred has adjunct professorships at Macquarie University and the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney, Western Sydney, Southern Queensland and Wollongong. In 2003,he 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's 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 "Star-Craving Mad - Tales from a Travelling Astronomer”, featuring highlights from his science tours around the world. HIs most recent books are “Cosmic Chronicles - a user’s guide to the Universe”, and “Spacewarp - Doomsday Comets and other Cosmic Catastrophes”, aimed at the 10+ age group.
Fred has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits the Earth, it won't be his fault...