Live Webinars with Fred Watson

All webinars start at 7.30 pm AEST or can be watched on-demand after registration.


The small fee of $2.00 to participate helps cover ZOOM and administration fees.

Dark Secrets - the Universe’s biggest enigmas

Apart from the search for extraterrestrial life, the biggest questions confronting astronomers today relate to two fundamental properties of the Universe. Despite their similar names, dark matter and dark energy have vastly different attributes. The nature of both is unknown, yet together they constitute 95 percent of the Universe’s mass-energy budget. In this fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson reviews the observational evidence relating to dark matter and dark energy, and highlights some of the work being carried out to understand their origin.  

Cosmic Relief - The mystery of Fast Radio Bursts

For the past decade or so, the world’s radio astronomers have been baffled by cosmic signals that defy attempts to explain them. Dating from an unrelated trawl through archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope, the story of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) has now shifted to some of the most advanced radio astronomy facilities in the world. They include the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory in remote Western Australia, home of the Square Kilometre Array. This is a fast-changing field of research, and in this fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson presents the latest in our understanding of these freaks of the radio Universe.   

Moon Mysteries - understanding Earth’s nearest neighbour

No celestial object is more assured of a place in the hearts of humans than the Moon, but the sentiment ought to extend beyond mere romantic fervour. Undying gratitude is perhaps more appropriate, since it's entirely possible that without the Moon, intelligent life might never have evolved on our planet. This is just one of the intriguing insights that current scientific research has uncovered. In this fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson explores the history of our understanding of the Moon from the earliest times through to the space age, and highlights some of the questions that today's investigations into our natural satellite are addressing. 

Astronomy in the Middle Ages

Modern astronomy is usually considered to have started in the Enlightenment, largely as a result of the invention of the telescope. But when we look back into the Middle Ages, we find a richness of thought that is preserved today in the art and manuscripts of the time, which are often of exquisite quality. Those ideas, in turn, owed their origin to Islamic scholars in the tenth and eleventh centuries, who had built on the work of the ancient Greeks. In this richly illustrated talk, Fred Watson celebrates the flourishing of mediaeval astronomy, and traces its origins and legacies. 

Planets that never were - but might have been

A planet in the Solar System that seemed to shrink as the years went by. And another in a distant planetary system that slowly faded into invisibility. And what about shy planets that take time to show their faces? Planetary detective work has been the stock-in-trade of astronomers for centuries, but still provides puzzles that need patience and careful observations to solve. In this fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson opens up the missing-planets casebook, and explores some of its mysteries.

Cosmic Relief - Welcome to Mars – our Planet B?

Mars is the most Earth-like world of the Solar System, characterised by uncanny similarities to our own planet, as well as stark differences – most of which can be understood by its smaller size. There is much talk today about the possible role of Mars as a lifeboat for our own planet. Aspirations among some of the world’s most innovative space entrepreneurs vie in the public imagination with now-discredited plans for wholesale one-way colonisation, with so-called terra-forming of Mars at the far end of the unreality spectrum. This talk argues that while human exploration of the planet is highly desirable, wholesale colonisation is not only unnecessary and impractical, but also unethical.


The Universe for Everyone

Welcome to Mars - not our planet B

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