Sir Patrick Moore, the witty and admirable astronomer and broadcaster, has died at the age of 89.
After an official statement was released by Moore’s family, friend and Queen guitarist, Brian May, tweeted:
Patrick was very peaceful in his last hours. With his beloved cat Ptolemy purring on his bed. And his pals all around. A great innings.
It’s such sad news, especially as everyone grew up with his enthusiasm encouraging us to always look up and see the wonders of the universe. He became the longest-running host of the same television show ever, having presented the BBCOne staple astronomy programme, The Sky At Night, for over 50 years.
I remember watching the show’s 700th episode last year, and thinking what a remarkable achievement it was. Celebrating the milestone on the BBC Blog, The Sky At Night co-presenter, Dr. Chris Lintott, wrote:
“When [Sir Patrick Moore] speaks, people listen because they’re confident they will understand his explanations, whether he’s talking about the Moon or black holes.
We needed every ounce of that ability to deal with some of the questions that we had for the 700th programme, which ranged from enquires about alien life to questions about why Venus’ thick, sulphurous atmosphere is so different from that of Earth…
I think everyone involved – except possibly Patrick, who knows everything already – learned something along the way.”
I’m happy to see that Sky+ hasn’t failed me either; the latest episode of The Sky At Night is saved on the box, the last one to be presented by Moore. Presumably, the next episode will be a tribute to the great man, and I hope the BBC take the decision to continue the show far beyond his death. It’s definitely what Patrick would want.
If you’re entranced with the night sky, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, I highly recommend picking up one of his books.
It is, indeed, a sad day… but Moore’s legacy will live on in generations of people all gazing skywards and appreciating the deep, complex and beautiful nature of both the world around us and the entire universe. And that fascination is one that will never die.