Professor Fred Watson AM

Professor Fred Watson AM uses his expertise as a science communicator and public advocate to inspire people’s interest in astronomy, astrophysics and science.

His work for our department includes editing the Astronomy in Australia newsletter in collaboration with the Australian SKA Office and our optical astronomy team.


  • Award-winning populariser of astronomy and space science through radio, TV, podcasts, books, articles and events
  • Former Astronomer-in-Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory
  • Adjunct Professor in the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales, Southern Queensland, Wollongong, Western Sydney University and Macquarie University
  • Advocate for STEM education, dark skies and energy-efficient lighting
  • Helped pioneer the use of optical fibres in astronomy in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Background in observational astronomy, photonics, spectroscopy and instrumentation
  • Research interests in large-scale spectroscopic surveys and the history of science


  • B.Sc. Mathematics and Physics, University of St Andrews
  • M.Sc. Astronomy, University of St Andrews
  • Ph.D. Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
  • D.Sc. honoris causa, Macquarie University

Awards and honours

  • David Allen Prize of the Astronomical Society of Australia, 2003
  • Asteroid 5691 designated ‘Fredwatson’ by the International Astronomical Union, 2004
  • Coonabarabran NSW Citizen of the Year, 2005
  • Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, 2006
  • Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Science Writing, 2008
  • APRA Classical Music Award for Best Choral or Vocal Work, 2008
  • Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia, 2010
  • UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing, 2013