Monday, December 10, 2012

Sir Patrick, an inspiration to millions, passes away

Tributes have poured in for the astronomer and television presenter Sir Patrick Moore who passed away yesterday [Sunday 9th December] at the age of 89.

Longest running TV host

Sir Patrick presented the BBC programme The Sky At Night for over 50 years, making him the longest-running host of the same television show ever. He had also written dozens of books on astronomy and his research was used by the US and the Russians in their space programmes.

"Fearlessly eccentric"

He has been described by one of his close friends as "fearlessly eccentric" and was known for his habit of wearing a monocle on screen as well as his idiosyncratic style.

He "passed away peacefully at 12:25" at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, friends and colleagues said in a statement. Meanwhile tributes to the self-taught astronomer poured in from around the world.

"Father figure"

Brian May, former guitarist with the rock band Queen who also has a PhD in astrophysics, described him as "a dear friend and a kind of father figure" in an article published in the Guardian.

Brian Cox, the particle physicist and television presenter, tweeted, "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped to inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!"


Although Sir Patrick was never trained professionally in astronomy, he carried out pioneering work on mapping the Moon in the 1950s which aided NASA in their Lunar expeditions. A decade later Sir Patrick provided the television commentary for the Apollo Moon landings and later interviewed the first man to land on the Moon, Neil Armstrong who passed away earlier this year.

Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees said that despite being an amateur scientist, Sir Patrick was a total professional in his work. "He did his homework; he absorbed new ideas quickly. To a TV audience, he was a 'character' - indeed in the earlier days of science broadcasting the demeanour of a mad professor seemed a prerequisite for media success," Sir Martin said.

"But in his case, this image overlay a lifetime commitment, a workaholic mission to explain, and an enthusiasm to promote his subject in whatever ways he could."

Accomplished musician

As a young man Sir Patrick knew Albert Einstein and even accompanied the great physicist, who was a keen violinist, on the piano. Sir Patrick often composed music and was an exuberant player of the xylophone.

Inspiration to millions

An inspiration to millions, Sir Patrick will be sadly missed. He died peacefully at his Sussex home surrounded by friends, family and his cat Ptolemy. His legacy will live on in countless books and in the programme Sky at Night which will continue to be broadcast.

Sir Patrick will feature in the next instalment of The Sky at Night, recorded just prior to his death, and scheduled to be shown in January 2013.

See also: BBC / Sky NewsChannel 4 News / SunMirror / Daily MailGuardian / Telegraph / Independent

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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