Monday, 10 December 2012

THOSE WE HAVE LOST: Sir Patrick Moore (1923-2012)

Sir Patrick inspired successive generations of stargazers with his TV series The Sky At Night and wrote more than 60 books on astronomy. He celebrated the 55th anniversary of the BBC programme in April, as it became longest running series with the same presenter. Brian May was among those paying tribute to Patrick, although he was speaking with his scientist's hat on, rather than as guitarist in Queen - he has a degree in astrophysics. He said: "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."

Aged  just 11, Moore became the youngest member of the British Astronomical Association and in April 1957 he hosted the first edition of The Sky at Night - that is, before the Space Age began.

Away from his telescopes, and having musical 'perfect pitch', Patrick Moore played and composed for the xylophone from the age of 12 and his output included operas. Once, at the Theatre Royal Bath, he played 21 xylophone pieces, 19 of which he had written himself.

Politically, he was opposed to immigration and supported the Conservative Party until abandoning them because they were in favour of hunting. In recent years he supported the UK Independence Party, as he saw Britain becoming "a dumping ground" for economic refugees.

In the event of his death, the astronomer was clear about what he wanted - a party: ‘Quite a show. Plenty of drink.’

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