Candidate Profile

Provided by

Astronomy & Space Science
Science - General
Science - Physics
Alan Wright has been a professional research astronomer for over 50 years, much of that time as the Chief Astronomer & Head of Operations at the world-famous Parkes Observatory in Australia, known to many as “The Dish”.

He is a multiple graduate of London University and has worked in Canada, the USA and several European countries, as well as in his home of Australia. 

In 1982 he co-discovered the most distant known object in the universe and has also been involved in many other major discoveries and projects, including:
• how stars are born; 
• what happens when galaxies collide; 
• the search for alien intelligent life &
• the quest for the edge of the Universe

In addition, he has also collaborated extensively with overseas organisations, like NASA and the European Space Agency on such projects as the Giotto Mission to Halley’s Comet in and the Voyager II fly-bys of the planets Uranus and Neptune.

Recently retired, he retains his passion for astronomy and takes a very active interest in all modern astronomical discoveries. He is also a dynamic and popular public speaker who specialises in making “tricky” scientific subjects understandable to everybody. On cruise ships his talks attract capacity audiences, often receive standing ovations and the comments about his engaging and entertaining speaking style on such websites as “CruiseCritic” are uniformly flattering.

In his spare time, he loves watercolour painting, singing, guitar playing …and talking with anybody, at any time, about almost anything!
(Partial) Talks List, current as at 2018 March

1. “From Here to Infinity”
Professional astronomer Dr. Alan Wright takes us on an exciting, whirlwind voyage through the whole of our amazing and expanding universe, touching on many of the fascinating things it contains, such as black holes and dark matter, and shows just how easy it is to understand everything “out there”.

2. “Our Moon: Goddess of the Night”
Alan Wright helps us to learn and enjoy more about our nearest celestial neighbour, the Moon, “Goddess of the Night”, revealing its history and its strange and “dark” sides, while describing how it has so greatly influenced our lives, our culture and our science.

3. “Where On Earth Are We?”
In this talk Alan Wright takes us on a fascinating historical and astronomical voyage, showing how sailors have grappled with the hugely difficult, but critically important, problem of navigating the high seas and knowing exactly where on Earth they are.

4. “Great Heavens Above!”
Alan Wright introduces you to some of the superb and awe-inspiring objects visible in the Southern heavens at the moment and gives you lots of star-gazing tips so that you can get the most out of our "stargazing" sessions and enjoy the beauty of the night skies for yourself on this cruise whenever you want.

5. "The Dish: the True Story"
Alan Wright, former Chief Astronomer at the Parkes Radio Observatory, shares the fascinating story of Australia's most famous astronomical facility, including the critical roles it played in NASAs Apollo Moon landings and many other later projects.

6. “Contact With Other Worlds”
Alan Wright tackles one of humankind’s biggest questions as he explores the chances of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, outlines what alien life forms could be like and discusses how we are presently attempting to make contact with them. And what will happen when we do.

7. “Time: that Strangest Thing”
Alan takes an in depth look at Time, probably the most mysterious and least-understood thing in the whole Universe, touching on how we use it, how we measure it, and even trying to come to grips with what it really is.

8. "Born In the Stars"
Alan Wright explores the fascinating history of how old we all really are and where we were all really born, revealing that it was literally "in the stars" at a time when the whole Universe was being created, billions of years ago.

9. “The Dark Side of the Cosmos”
Alan Wright explores the mysteries and methods of the modern, “dark” astronomies which have discovered so many fascinating and unsuspected objects in recent years, including black-holes, dark matter, dark energy, and the glow from the birth of the universe.

10. “Great Controversies in Astronomy”
Alan Wright discusses some of the great mysteries which astronomers have argued about passionately in the past, introduces us to the ones which are baffling them at the moment and suggests that what we don’t know about the Universe vastly out-weighs what we do know.

11. "Eyes On the Skies"
Australia is home to some of the most important astronomical instruments in the world, and so Alan Wright takes a close look at these and other telescopes, from Galileo's smallest devices to the enormous, modern instruments probing the skies today, together with the working lives of the professional astronomers who use them.

12. “Facts, Fallacies & Fakes in Astronomy”
Alan Wright examines some of the fascinating facts and fallacies about a whole range of astronomical topics, including the mysterious black holes, the allure of astrology, gravity, faster than¬ light travel and whether the Apollo Moon landings were really faked.

13. “Pluto: Planet or Not?”
Probably nothing in astronomy has annoyed more people in the last few years than Pluto's so called “demotion” from planetary status and so Alan Wright takes us on a fascinating journey visiting all the planets and shows exactly what happened to Pluto – and why.

14. “Impact: Our World in Peril”
Alan Wright reveals the chances and catastrophic consequences of a massive asteroid colliding with the Earth, an event which has happened in the past and which undoubtedly will happen in the future, possibly even wiping out all life here on Earth.

15. “Shadows In the Sky”
Alan Wright reveals why the things we can’t see in the sky are sometimes even more important than the ones we actually do see, as he discusses the science and history of eclipses of the Sun and Moon and transits of the planets, including James Cook’s famous 1769 observations of Venus in Tahiti.

16. “The Heavens Declare the Glory”
Alan Wright takes us on an amazing journey, exploring the wonder, beauty & glory of the whole Universe in which we live, highlighted by many of his favourite images, quotes, videos, poems, music & personal reflections from a lifetime of gazing at the heavens.

17. “So, You Want To Be an Astronomer?”
Alan answers many of the questions he’s most frequently asked about how to get started in the wonderful hobby of “Stargazing”, including what (and what not!) to buy, how you can best determine what’s visible at any time of the year, and how to fully understand what you’re looking at when you finally get out there under the stars.

18. “Our Sun: Chariot of Fire”
Alan Wright takes a close look at the history and science of our Sun, the most important star in the whole Universe (at least for us!), explaining its many influences on the Earth, touching on some of its stranger features, and exploring the secret of its enormous power.

19. “To the Edge of the Universe”
Alan Wright tackles many of the biggest questions concerning space, time and the whole Universe, including how it all began, why it’s expanding, whether it has an “edge” and how it may all end.

20. “When Galaxies Collide”
In this talk Alan Wright reveals the beauty of our own Milky Way galaxy and then turns his attention to other galaxies, showing what happens as they smash into each other, in events which are at once both unimaginably violent and yet almost unbelievably beautiful.

21. “Heavenly Bodies I Have Known”
Alan Wright takes us on a very personal and light-hearted look at an astronomer’s life “behind the scenes”, illuminated by several amusing incidents from his own research career, and reveals just why he has found himself fascinated by heavenly bodies for over 50 years!
2012 – Holland America Line – “Oosterdam” – 7 Presentations
2013 – Holland America Line – “Volendam” – 10 Presentations
2014 – Seabourn – “Sojourn” – 5 Presentations
2014 – Holland America Line – “Oosterdam” – 10 Presentations
2014 – Holland America Line – “Volendam” – 8 Presentations
2015 – Seabourn – “Odyssey” – 8 Presentations
2015 – Holland America Line – “Noordam” – 16 Presentations
2016 – Holland America Line – “Amsterdam” – 9 Presentations
2016 – Holland America Line – “Maasdam” – 14 Presentations
2017 – Holland America Line – “Noordam” – 16 Presentations
2017 – Holland America Line – “Maasdam” – 17 Presentations
2018 – Holland America Line – “Amsterdam” – 16 Presentations
2018 -- Viking -- "Orion" -- 6 Presentations
2018 -- Viking -- "Orion" -- 8 Presentations
2018 -- Viking -- "Orion" -- 8 Presentations
2019 -- Viking -- "Orion" -- 8 Presentations
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Orion OR181230 Australia & New Zealand 14 Auckland Sunday, December 30, 2018
Viking Orion OR181216 Australia & New Zealand 14 Sydney Sunday, December 16, 2018
Viking Orion OR181130 Komodo & the Australian Coast 16 Bali Friday, November 30, 2018
Viking Orion OR181118 Bangkok, Bali & Beyond 12 Bangkok (from Laem Chabang) Sunday, November 18, 2018