Astronomer Patrick Moore dies aged 89
Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore died today aged 89, a group of his friends and staff said.
The broadcaster “passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon”, at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, they said in a statement.
It added: “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.”
Moore has done more arguably than anybody else to popularise astronomy and has been a constant presence on our television screens for nearly 60 years.
Born in 1923 in Pinner, Middlesex, Moore was interested in astronomy from a young age. He was largely home schooled because of health issues.
He enlisted in the RAF during the Second World War and rose to the rank of squadron leader. His fiancée was killed by a German bomb in 1943, an incident which had a long-term effect on him. He never married and lived at home with his two cats.
After the war he made his living writing books about astronomy. An opportunity to present a new television series about astronomy and space presented itself in 1957. The Sky at Night became a phenomenon, the longest running television programme in the world.
Moore presented every single episode of The Sky at Night bar one, a remarkable record. He even presented the current programme which is currently being shown on BBC4.
He was an expert on the Moon and his maps of our nearest neighbour were regarded as definitive until satellites started sending back more detailed pictures of the surface.
Moore only had one other job which as the director of the Armagh Planterium between 1965-1968 during its reconstruction.
Astronomy Ireland director David Moore (no relation) described him as a "friend of Irish astronomy". He regularly showcased the work of two of Ireland's best amateur astronomers, Carl O'Byrnes and David Grennan, on The Sky at Night.
Sir Patrick gave three public lectures in Dublin to celebrate his 70th birthday and was a regular visitor to Ireland though he famously disliked going abroad and was a support of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
He was also on the committee to restore the telescope at Birr Castle which was once the biggest in the world.
In recent years his health has failed and he eventually succumbed this morning to an infection.
Queen guitarist Brian May, who published a book on astronomy written with Moore described him as a "dear friend, and a kind of father figure to me".
He added: "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. Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."
Additional reporting: PA