Candidate Profile

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Astronomy & Space Science
Gary Fildes is the Founder CEO and lead Astronomer at the Kielder Observatory in the UK. Having observed the skies and studied astronomy since the age of 8 - he built a world renowned observatory however he had an unlikely beginning in science - Starting off life as a bricklayer. 

He says: “I dreamt of building an observatory where we could all share the universe and the night sky, so I built the Kielder Observatory.” 

The success of this project relied heavily on Gary’s wealth of knowledge in astronomy as well as his ability to communicate complex concepts in an easy to understand format – engaging and exciting.

The Kielder Observatory had an initial funding requirement to host 240 people a year, and through word-of-mouth has grown to having 26,000 visitors per year. It is widely acknowledged that this success is due to Gary’s ability to communicate his passion, enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of the night skies and astronomy. 

In recognition of Gary’s rare achievements, he has been awarded an honorary MSc degree in astrophysics from the University of Durham. 

The Kielder Observatory project continues to expand and Gary has secured local planning approval to create the largest public observatory in the world: a £20M project. 

Gary’s experience and knowledge in the development of accessible, exciting and inspiring astronomy centres is unparalleled – now as a recognised author TV presenter and inspirational speaker Gary is determined to spread the message about how astronomy can change lives! It certainly did his!

Click here to visit Gary's website >>

1. "An Introduction to Astronomy"
This talk focusses on how we have developed our scientific knowledge to create and in depth awareness of the evolution of our universe. Starting off with the earliest of observations and then meandering through discovery after discovery using HD graphics and videos - I aim to illuminate the audience with a fact base of stunning knowledge gems. Ending with humanity front and centre.

2. "The Aurora"
This talk focusses on - well the aurora! For millennia folklore and fairy tales was the stuff of the Northern and Southern lights - civilisations inside the arctic circle devised a myriad of wonderful ideas to explain the lights, woven into their own societies. Now we better understand the scientific view, using high res imagery from space based satellites we can monitor the sun 24 hours a day to see how its high energy particle create one of the most awe inspiring displays nature gives us.

3. The Big Universe
A look at the evolution of the universe from the `Big Bang’ to modern times; Starting off with the development of ‘creation myths’ to how science started to piece together via observational evidence how our universe has formed and developed. Extrapolating the work of Stephen Hawking et al in to a modern talk that enthuses the audience to want to know and learn more of the natural state of the universe on large scales. I also emphasise the need for our human spirit to be considered into how we see the universe around us, making it a human journey of discovery, using cutting edge simulations and imagery the guest will leave with a rounded view of the evolution of our universe. With no mathematics or equations it’s a journey through the concepts in theoretical and experimental physics.

4. The Search for Life in the Universe
The oldest question and most profound one that exists in modern times has to be whether we are alone in the universe or not. What are the chances of life like us existing in some remote part of the universe? Is it high or is it low? How would we even know? These questions are still waiting to be answered and it has to be the job of science to realistically tackle them. In this talk I examine the evidence and challenge the guests to consider the implications and whether we could be alone in this vast cold dark universe, what is the view of science currently and what evidence do we have if any that can point us to life like ourselves. Few would consider that there is no life anywhere in any form, however organised thinking self aware beings are very different and may not exist at all, so lets in this talk take a look at the science, using modern satellites and high resolution imagery we will explore this most fundamental question.

And many more featuring subjects from astrophotography to the dark side of the universe...gravitational waves to navigating the sky...
I have worked with SAGA previously. I head up a team of 10 science communicators and am an author. As a scientist my story is unusual as I started off life as a Bricklayer and ended up as the director of the Kielder observatory on Northumberland. You can google the rest ;-)