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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Arts and Entertainment
music
News
news

Sport
football

Follow the latest news and score as Chelsea take on Maribor at Stamford Bridge.

Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind"

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album