The self-taught amateur astronomer and former RAF Flight Lieutenant, Sir Patrick Moore, has died aged 89 at his home in Selsey, West Sussex. The well known and admired broadcaster had been taken to hospital last week but returned home as per his wishes.
His friends and staff stated “After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy.”
Sir Patrick’s passion for astronomy began when he was just 6 after being given GF Chambers’ book, The Story of the Solar System by his mother. He went on to write and publish papers about the Moon’s surface using just his 3-inch telescope. He never married saying “Second best is no good for me. I would have liked a wife and family, but it was not to be.” His fiancée Lorna, was killed when an ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb during the Second World War.
The first broadcast of The Sky at Night was on 24th April 1957, preceding the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik by six months. Sir Patrick only ever missed one edition of his programme, in July 2004 because of food poisoning, during more than 50 years of the show. He became so prominent in astronomy and science related broadcasting that he was asked to commentate the American Moon landing just a decade after his first television appearance.
Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11′s pilot, paid tribute to Sir Patrick Moore in 2009, saying
“Astronomy has grown in leaps and bounds and it’s people like Patrick who have been able to put it into perspective so that ordinary people understand the enormity of the universe.”