Astronomer and Head of Lighting Environment, Australian Astronomical Observatory
Fred Watson comes from a long line of Freds, but was the first in his family to become a scientist. He has been Astronomer in Charge at the Australian Astronomical Observatory since 1995, having worked previously at both of Britain's Royal Observatories. He is also the AAO’s Head of Lighting and Environment, providing advocacy for the protection of the night sky against light pollution.
Fred is a graduate of the universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, and today holds adjunct professorial positions at several Australian universities. His academic work has covered most branches of astronomy, from the Solar System to the distant Universe, and he is known for pioneering the application of fibre optics to astronomy in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fred is best known, however, for his radio and TV broadcasts, talks, and other outreach programs, which earned him the 2006 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. He has written a number of popular astronomy books, two of which have received literary awards, and has both a science-themed CD and an award-winning symphony libretto to his name. Fred was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010. He has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits the Earth, it won't be his fault.