Stars pay tribute to Sir Patrick Moore, the man who took us into space

 

Sir Patrick Moore, who died this afternoon at his home in Selsey, West Sussex at the age of 89, will be remembered as the man who inspired several generations of children to look up at the sky at night and dream of other worlds.

Following an infection several weeks ago that left him in hospital but unable to respond to further treatment, Sir Patrick asked to spend his last days at his home, Farthings, in the company of his friends, carers and beloved pet cat Ptolemy.

Britain’s most recognisable amateur astronomer, who presented the BBC’s The Sky At Night for more than 50 years, had suffered several serious bouts of illness over the past few years but this time he was too weak to recover, according to close friends.

Tributes flooded in today for the man who popularised the field of space and astronomy for more than half a century in his distinctively eccentric style epitomised by an ill-fitting suit, monocle over his right eye and erudite speech delivered at a rate of 300 words a minute.

Brian May, the guitarist of the Queen who also has a PhD in astrophysics, said that Sir Patrick was an inspiration to him and many others both through his personal life and his 50 years of television broadcasting.

“It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century,” Dr May said.

“Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life," he said.

“Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one," he added.

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!”

Sir Patrick, who was born on 4 March 1923, said his interest in astronomy began as a small child when he came across a book called Guide to The Solar System.

“I picked up that book by sheer luck and sat down by the armchair and read it through. I understood most of it, which wasn’t bad for a six-year-old,” he later remembered.

As a young man he knew Albert Eistein 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.

David Whitehouse, a former BBC science correspondent who knew Sir Patrick well, said that he loved astronomy more than himself but he was not always an easy man to work with.

“He was passionate, he was dedicated and had an unselfish love of astronomy and he passed that on to everybody who knew him and he came across,” Dr Whitehouse said.

“He was a difficult person personally to deal with on many occasions, he was sometimes awkward, truculent and stubborn but that was Patrick, that was part of his remarkable personality which so many people came to enjoy and love,” he said.

Although Sir Patrick was never trained professionally in astronomy, he did carry out pioneer work on mapping the Moon in the 1950s, and a decade later did some of the television commentary for the Apollo Moon landings.

Sir Patrick never married, saying that he would not accept second best after his fiancée, Lorna, died in an air raid when the ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb during the Second World War.

His eccentricity extended into his political leanings, being the finance officer of the Monster Raving Loony Party and a leading member of the newly-founded UK Independence Party

But the stars and planets were his first love, along with music and cricket.

He once said that he would like to be remembered as an amateur astronomer who played cricket and the xylophone.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory