|Thiam-Guan (TG) Tan grew up in Malaysia. When he was six he watched the Apollo 11 moon landing on TV and was captivated. Experiments with rockets followed, using gunpowder extracted from fireworks.
Surviving childhood, TG scored scholarships for pre-university in Singapore and then to Cambridge University. The scholarships were life-defining because although his parents had re-mortgaged the family home they could only afford to send one child, the eldest, to University.
At Cambridge TG studied Engineering. For a time he lived in the same building where Newton once had his rooms. The structure of DNA had been discovered just down the road, and Stephen Hawking could still be seen zipping down the street in his wheelchair.
An international career in the oil and gas industries followed, but the science bug never left. Visiting the Perth Royal Show in 2001, he saw some telescopes on display. Realising he could finally afford one, he bought an 8” Newtonian. After a spell doing astrophotography, science beckoned. In 2007 TG designed a supernova search project, operated from his backyard. He discovered three supernovae in as many years.
In 2010 TG built the Perth Exoplanet Survey Telescope (PEST) observatory. PEST has had a part in the discovery of more than 70 exoplanets so far. TG is recipient of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Amateur Achievement Award (2018) and the Astronomical Society of Australia’s Berenice and Arthur Page Medal (2020). He is Adjunct Senior Lecturer with the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy.