World-renowned astronomer to entertain Armidale audience

Published 08 December 2009

uranusArmidale will be treated to a public lecture tomorrow (Thursday 10 December) by the world-renowned astronomer and astronomy communicator Fred Watson.

Dr Watson, the Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Spring near Coonabarabran, will talk at the Wicklow Hotel at 7 pm tomorrow evening.

The University of New England and Northern Tablelands Astronomical Society (UNENTAS) has organised the talk as part of its program of events during 2009 – the International Year of Astronomy.

Chris Wyatt, the President of UNENTAS, said Dr Watson’s talk would bring the Society’s program for the year to an exciting culmination. “We really wanted to finish the year on a high note,” Mr Wyatt said. “And there’s no better way than with Fred Watson.”

During the year, UNENTAS has collaborated with the Astronomical Society of Coonabarabran and the National Parks and Wildlife Service Discovery Program, taking astronomy-related events to schoolchildren and the general public throughout the New England and North West regions.

Fred Watson is well known as a science communicator through his regular broadcasts on ABC radio. In 2003 he won the David Allen Prize for communicating astronomy to the public, and in 2008 he received the Eureka Award for Science Communication. Tomorrow evening he will be signing copies of his most recent book, Why is Uranus Upside Down? – an entertaining collection of answers to many of the questions he has received from listeners to his radio broadcasts over the past 10 years.

Entry to the talk at the Wicklow Hotel will be $5, with children under 16 years of age (accompanied by a paying adult) admitted free. Star charts and moon maps will be among the many raffle prizes to be won.

UNENTAS meets at UNE’s Kirby Observatory, which houses the 14-inch (“Bill Webster”) Celestron telescope, on the third Wednesday of every month, and welcomes new members. The Kirby Observatory has been awarded the status of “designated observatory” by the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) – a status given to observatories considered by the ASA to be “valuable astronomical resources”. As well as being the home of UNENTAS, the Kirby Observatory is used in the teaching of astronomy to UNE Physics students.