A nobleman among geeks, the great stargazer Patrick Moore passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Born in 1923, the great man racked up many geek accolades in his long career of star watching, contributing to the NASA moon landings and holding the world record for the longest running TV show with the same presenter for his 55 …
What? No mention of his appearance on The Goodies as the punk Patrick Moore c/w safety pin through eyebrow?
The world just keeps getting smaller. No more Sky at Night.
I'll dig out my copy of The Observer Book of the Sky tonight. It always comes across in his voice (unsurprising since he wrote it).
He was also Gamesmaster! Used to love that show, but, not as much as the Sky at Night.
<<< Here's to you Patrick
Shone as bright as any star!
You gave us a reason to look up.
And you helped us get past that difficult level on Earthworm Jim.
You met Einstein.
And your maps helped put a man on the moon.
Truly a British gent of the highest order, a legend, one of a kind.
RIP Sir Patrick
I've been watching The Sky At Night for as long as I can remember, and he had the rare gift of communicating sometimes complicated information with clarity and obvious love for his subject. You'll be sorely missed, Sir.
Will be missed.
Was very saddened to hear this news last night. Well done Reg on taking the time to give a wonderful tribute to a great British institution. I'll really miss his Xylophone exploits too which only served to make him even more fascinating to me while growing up. I do hope his hometown has the good sense to turn his residence into a museum of sorts. Would be great for all those not fortunate to have witnessed his genius and eccentricity while he was alive to experience the lifes work of such a legend.
Rest in Piece me old monocle'd mate! A star amongst stars.
Re: Will be missed.
Peace not Piece ;)
A wonderful, inspirational man and a top eccentric. Goodbye, Patrick, you'll be missed.
Raising a glass...
I'll be raising a jar to Sir Patrick tonight, he'll be missed, but what an awesome legacy he left behind to both science and in the art of civility :)
If anyone's ashes deserve to be scattered in the cosmos it's those of Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore.
A Gent and a Scholar...
Not to mention a classic barking-mad true British Eccentric, complete with monocle. Thoroughly under-appreciated in these times of X-Factor, celeb chefs and premiership footballers.
A sad day indeed.
The man was an unrepentant bigot. He though women had no place being on TV - and if they had to be, should have a TV channel of their own. Also a thorough-going racist, by all accounts (and I'm talking of accounts by people I know who met him and had the misfortune to know him reasonably well).
What he did, he did well. He's left a great legacy in terms of inspiring people in the realm of science and astronomy. But as a person, no great loss...
His views on women were a bit 1920s ! But so are those of the majority of churches and yet we let them carry on.
Having spoken to other people who knew him professionally - I don't think racist is fair. Just very anti-european, specifically anti-German. And anti- the hypocracy that we must have a race relations act, saying you can't say anything about race - championed by a succession of governments who are all rich white eton-educated anglicans.
The majority of churches don't say women shouldn't be on TV. I'd suggest your view on churches is formed without actually going inside any.
NB: saying women can't operate in the highest level of church authority isn't "a bit 1920s" or like saying women should stay at home.
>The majority of churches don't say women shouldn't be on TV
No they graciously allowed women to speak in church after 1962 and in 1994 allowed them on the altar during concecration.
...last night I saw Heather Couper reading out a letter he sent her when she wrote to him asking if being a girl was a handicap when it came to being an astronomer. He was charming and answered that it was no handicap at all and that she should strive to become an astronomer if she was interested.
So I don't quite buy the misogynist aspect of Patrick, I've seen him on the telly for my whole life and I've never seen him be anything other than charming and very interesting and talented.
I certainly won't be thinking bigoted thoughts when I look up at the stars.
You obviously failed to see the much repeated BBC obituary items where Heather Couper showed her letter which Sir Patrick wrote to her about her question as to whether sexism was a problem in astronomy. The reply was, "Let me reassure you on one point. Being a girl is no handicap at all".
You are also presumably unaware that many broadcasters cultivate an exaggerated version of their own personalities as an image tool. Some admit to it, others don't. Sir Patrick also had far longer than most to add to his on-screen persona.
Either cite your 'sources' or continue being as close-minded as the man you purport to have disliked.
is this the same Patrick Moore that wrote to a young Heather Couper (she read the letter out on a news programme yesterday) that "being a girl is no handicap to becoming an astronomer"?
The same Moore that resigned as a County Secretary for Boy Scouts in N. Ireland because they wouldn't let Catholics in?
The same Moore that suggested that the BBC was being ruined by programmes for women - soap-operas, quizzes, cookery programmes; and these should be on a separate channel.
What an unrepentant bigot.
Well volunteered Dick, so you'll be down your nearest mosque tomorrow with a placard and megaphone protesting about men and women having to use separate entrances and segregated seating?
After all, your values are universally right aren't they, so you MUST impose them on everybody else.
So only certain people deserve the wrath of your idealism?
"The man was an unrepentant bigot."
So was my granddad.
Sir Patrick Moore was 89 years old. Like my granddad, he was born and raised at a time when wives really did stay at home. (They didn't have much choice: we still had outdoor toilets and mangles back then; many homes either still had gas lighting, or had to plug their very few appliances into electric light fittings as there was no standard for wall sockets at the time.)
It wasn't until the 1950s that society started to move towards greater equality in the workplace. Even today, there are still issues of pay equality.
Furthermore, Sir Patrick Moore served in the RAF during WW2. He lived through six years of relentless wartime anti-German propaganda, found the love of his life killed by enemy bombing raids, saw his brothers in arms killed in action and was also shot down himself. You do not get to demand he switches instantly from anti-German to pro-German overnight on VE day.
Individual mental injuries take an entire lifetime, and may never heal entirely. Socio-cultural traumas on that scale take generations to heal. (Why do you think insulting the French is such a British tradition?)
VE Day marked the end of the fighting, but not the damage it caused. Wars do not end when the bullets stop flying. For many, the nightmares continue for the rest of their lives. We have a convenient label for this now: PTSD. And every war we've been involved in since WW2 has produced its own PTSD-suffering walking wounded. Their damage is inside, invisible to the naked eye. But it is there nonetheless.
You'd think we'd have learned this as a society by now, but no. We still get ignorant posts like yours.
I think people mostly appreciated him for his work in astronomy where he was an acknowledged expert. The fact he didn't contribute much to political correctness is pretty irrelevant as I don't think many people consulted him over that.
RIP Very sad.
I've been lucky to catch most of the recent episodes of the Sky at Night... how could I not, with recent events such as the landing of Curiosity on Mars, and the deaths of Neil Armstrong and Sir Bernard Lovell of radio telescope fame (covered on the same episode?). Not to mention the ongoing journeys of the Voyager probes as they begin to enter interstellar space...
I was of an age to be the target audience for Gamesmaster, but was already aware of who he was... and remembered at the time (a re-run, obviously) Monty Python parodying his verbal delivery. My favourite was the Radio 4 version of Dead Ringers, ringing him up in the voice of Tom Baker's Doctor Who. "Davros is planning an invasion of Earth from Mars, but we don't know from where on the Red Planet he is basing his invasion"... Sir Patrick didn't miss a beat, and immediately gave three likely spots, as well as concisely giving his reasoning behind the choices, before picking the most likely. A prank call done with affection (John Culshaw has appeared in recent episodes of The Sky At Night, including an anniversary edition) which allowed the 'victim' the best lines. (Though John Culshaw as 'The Doctor' ringing up Tom Baker himself was priceless... "I am the Doctor" / "No, I am the Doctor... y'know, I always fancied Davros" )
That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, just as I do the short period of time between the first heavier-than-air manned flight and the first man on the moon.
Science Fiction author, too
I have some of his books. They're terrible. Utterly, utterly terrible, and worth reading for that reason alone.
Farewell to the one time finance minister of the Monster Raving Loony party :-(
Seemed like a great bloke to me, and still brings a smile to my face thinking about some of his eccentricities, and the first Astronomy book I got from the library as a kid was one of his.
If he did hold some personal views which some people disagree with at least he kept them to himself and just did what he was good at. Unlike so many so called celebrities these days who think their opinions are so important that they have to be foisted on the rest of us.
Stick him into a photon torpedo tube and fire him off into the Milky Way !
Patrick Moore presented us with our Astronomy degree certificates back in 1989, a true privilege!
"That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, "
Apparently he met all three.
"many so called celebrities these days who think their opinions are so important that they have to be foisted on the rest of us."
What are the odds of something like Sky At Night getting commissioned in the UK these days?
Re: "That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, "
I'd imagine that since BBC4 the chances of Sky At Night like programming has gone up somewhat - I'm currently watching a series on a history of rubbish disposal in the UK and have an ongoing "most boring sounding documentary that turned out to be the most interesting." with a friend.
(In case you were wondering, I'm winning with a socio-political history of the shipping container.)
BBC 4 has some very good factual stuff, science in particular, it's well worth a look.
I wrote to him once...
... asking his opinion on some of my ideas for my school D&T project. I was absolutely stunned to receive his reply, typed on a filing card (now I know what the typewriter was!) and signed. Life-changing stuff when you're 14... I still have that card, somewhere.
Sir, this starry night I raise my glass to you.
Re: I wrote to him once...
Likewise! I wrote to him after reading his autobiography "80 Not Out" to not only say how much I had enjoyed it but to also point out a bunch of typos and mistakes. He replied saying he knew all about the mistakes and had sent a list of them to the printers who had then lost the corrections and printed it as is anyway! He sounded quite annoyed!
I'll miss him
I actually had the rare honour of being invited to his home when I was 10. He had been giving a presentation for a lunch at my dad's place of work. They started chatting and he invited us all over. I got to see Mars through the massive telescope in his back garden and he asked me to sketch what I saw. I think I still have the drawing in a signed book he gave me. Later that evening he brought out his wooden xylophone and taught my sister how to play a couple of songs.
The man was a true legend and leaves behind a fantastic legacy.
"Born in Sussex"
No, he was born in Pinner, Middlesex, near where I used to deliver newspapers as a lad.
Some of the most interesting people usually turn out to be eccentric, and Sir Patrick was no exception.
Patrick Moore: No Longer Visible To The Naked Eye
R I P --- one of the voices of my childhood. The Sky At Night started when I was five.
A sad loss, but a grand old age, and working until the end
I met him once.
As I wrote somewhere else on this site, "What a bloke".
A meeting with Sir Patrick was one you can never, ever forget.
I seem to remember the reason he never remarried after his fiancé was killed. He said something like "There was only one girl I loved. How can I accept second best?"
Lovely man. I don't think we will ever see the likes of him again - ever.
I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.
Was it a xylophone or a glockenspiel...
PS...Clear skies Sir Patrick...
Re: I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.
It was, indeed a xylophone. Glockenspiel has metal bars, xylophone has wooden ones. Since his fiancee was killed by the Germans, I hardly think his choice of instrument would be the former, somehow.....
Re: I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.
Xylophone = wood+sound.
Glockenspiel = Bells+play
You single-handedly brought the cosmos alive for so many people and are owed a huge debt of gratitude by British astronomy.
There's a new star in heaven but the night sky is darker.
Like many of my age, having been brought up with him "always there in the background of science" I owe him a debt of gratitude. He showed how to be committed, and remained inspiration and sharp till the end. There is a huge void now. A big pair of boots to fill. Will be missed by many RIP PM
On my way home this evening
I stopped the car at the darkest point on the journey (Exmoor can be really dark), and got out of the car.
The sky was a jewelled spectacle, and I said a farewell to Patrick with a heart both sad and joyous at the same time.
Re: On my way home this evening
I noticed the stars have been especially bright these last nights, even from London. A fitting tribute!
A great communicator.
He never claimed to be a professional astronomer, but he was exactly what every great teacher and mentor should be: infectiously enthusiastic, and a great communicator.
He gave us memories and learning. As with all the great teachers and communicators, the memories he gave us to keep are unforgettable. That's what I call immortality.
Re: A great communicator.
You're absolutely right. These days the BBC (and others) like to employ academics as presenters. Many of these, but by no means all, are duller than a very dull thing and couldn't make their subject sound interesting if their lives depended on it.
It seems production companies believe that expertise is more important than the ability to communicate on the subject under discussion. Worse still these people then become more general presenters and are employed to talk about subjects of which they know nothing.
My favouritest story about Patrick was the one about the stamps. Apparently he would stick the stamp on a letter anywhere other than the approved top right corner of the envelope. In the days of hand sorting this harmless eccentricity was no problem, but when automatic sorting machines came along they couldn't cope and his letters had to be hand sorted. So one day the Royal Mail sent him a letter (presumably working out who he was from the return address) asking him in future to place the stamp in the correct place.
Patrick replied to this letter with the address written to one side of the letter, allowing him to place the stamp in the centre of the envelope. The reply read simply, "Hey diddle diddle, the stamp's in the middle."
And that's one more eccentric gone.
What an excellent story!
RIP Sir Patrick
You will be missed...
And a musician not devoid of a sense of humour.
RIP, Sir Patrick Moore.
While he wasn't someone you could apply only one label to, what with his comments about women, Europe etc, he had the ability to take a joke with a smile and a laugh.
Anyone remember 'The Two Ronnies' send-up of The Sky At Night? Sir Patrick happily showed clips of it on one of his shows and looked vastly amused doing it.
Passionate about things he believed in, very educated, eccentric and very English. We won't see his like again.
RIP, Sir Patrick, I hope all your questions are answered now.