Look to the stars
And raise a pint in memory. You will be missed Patrick
A nobleman among geeks, the great stargazer Patrick Moore passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Born in 1923, the great man racked up many geek accolades in his long career of star watching, contributing to the NASA moon landings and holding the world record for the longest running TV show with the same presenter for his 55 …
"He was a bit odd though"
You could say that about every person who manages to break from the herd and be an individual.
In this case we have a man who was an inspiration and an idol to many, and also had a wicked sense of humour.
There is new star in the skies and he will always be fondly remembered (unlike some other 'celebrities' I could mention).
Are there any true gentleman left in this once great land? or is it truly the end of an era?
I have absolutely no doubt that he was inspirational and utterly devoted to his subject. However he maintained an opinion that "The only good German is a dead German" until the end. I find it remarkable that one can be so educated and intelligent and yet continue to harbour such bitterness and, frankly, I hope most people would be able to move on from that place. I guess his wartime experiences didn't allow him to do so. Fortunately I have had the luxury throughout my life never to have experienced what he went through.
I don't know what he did in the RAF but as with everyone in the British military at that time from Monty down, they were nearly all socialists.
Not that that makes them any less racist if they are such. However I was friends with a bomber pilot in his last years and his biggest regret was bombing civilians in WW2. The idea that they were Germans never arose. People did what they were told in those days. And while they will swallow any old bilge even going as far as becoming antisemitic when it was safest to do so, most of the viable opposition to Hitler was knifed in 1938 IIRC.
And all the propaganda the Germans were subject in the decade leading up to WW2 to had to have a massive effect on the most obedient people in Europe.
Interesting that I'm currently in Koln and trying to upvote those posts that are critical of his German stance, but the site won't register my upvote.
The Germans are the nicest people I have ever met in Europe, and of all the countries I have visited Germany is by far the best.
Let's remember that the Nazis were effectively created from the appalling economic mess that was left after the first world war. That mess was caused in large part by protectionism and American reluctance to trade with a country it had lent a lot of money to. American opportunism is the primary cause of the mid-century troubles.
Mr Moore was an enthusiastic amateur, but his political and other views were disgusting.
Please, let's not have any nuance in discussions on human behaviour. Let's all just pretend it's nice and simple and we can get back to assuming that the cultural or personal explanation de jour really sums everything up about a war that lasted over five years across mutliple countries with its roots - like everything else - extending much further back.
I guess losing the love of your life is difficult to get over...
There are a lot of people who fought and lost people in WWII that still have that same idea of the Germans. It is sad, but unfortunately emotional memories do often skew perceptions and understandings for decades. The important thing is that our generation (and future generations) cast aside these misconceptions.
It is important to remember Patrick for his contributions, and not that one opinion.
In his own words about Germans and Werhner von Braun
"When I met von Braun, there were no ill feelings, and we got on very well; subsequently he joined me in a Sky at Night TV programme"
"No-one could hate the Nazis more than me (they killed my fiancée, many of my best friends, and did their best to kill me). But on my knowledge of him I am ready to give von Braun a 'clean bill'. I do not believe that he was personally involved in atrocities, and it is also clear that he was in no position to prevent them. We will never know the full truth; I can only give my personal opinion"
Sounds quite balanced to me.
"I am ready to give von Braun a 'clean bill'. I do not believe that he was personally involved in atrocities, and it is also clear that he was in no position to prevent them. We will never know the full truth; I can only give my personal opinion"
The survivors of Nordhausen have testafied that von Braun was involved in atrocities (in and above the horror of Nordhausen). A lot of this came out after von Bruan's death, so it's entirely possible Moore saw the sanitised Disney-friendly von Braun NASA wanted to share.
What he said (in May this year) was:-
"I'm no European, Why? Go to Europe and look around. The Germans tried to conquer us. The French betrayed us. The Belgians did very little and the Italians made us our ice cream.
We must take care, there may be another war. The Germans will try again, given another chance. A Kraut is a Kraut is a Kraut. And the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut. There can be good, free, honourable, decent Germans. I haven't met them myself, but I'm sure they exist."
Given that he lost his ambulance driving fiancée to a German bomb, was in a plane crash (presumably due to German action) that killed his pilot and co-pilot and knocked out all his teeth, and probably lost a good many fiends to enemy action, I am surprised that he is so restrained when talking about Germany.
Anyway, he needed have worried, germany has now achieved with banks what it couldn't achieve with tanks.
I was watching the Sky at Night on Sunday (00:30) and I thought that he had become quite frail looking compared to the previous months' program. I can't remember when I first saw the Sky at Night, I will miss him on the show, after all I've been watching it for well over 40 years.
There is a crater on the far side of the moon called "Moore Crater", how fitting.
"I was watching the Sky at Night on Sunday (00:30) and I thought that he had become quite frail looking compared to the previous months' program."
Correct, his years showed last Sunday, very much more than before. You could feel it coming, but it seems his mind, though slower, had not lost his clarity yet.
It'll be different without him, allthough I hope Chris will be his very worthy next in line for Sky at Night: it's a series I would miss very much if it were to go now...
I once as a kid in the 60's was at the London planetarium,
he gave a special presentation to the school kids.
he had us all wanting to be scientists.
BTW: re " Young Moore was present in NASA ground control for the Apollo landing"
was he not in the BBC studios in the UK ? I seem to remember him crying at the landing. bu tit wa sa long time ago..
the world is a better place because of him.
What? No mention of his appearance on The Goodies as the punk Patrick Moore c/w safety pin through eyebrow?
The world just keeps getting smaller. No more Sky at Night.
I'll dig out my copy of The Observer Book of the Sky tonight. It always comes across in his voice (unsurprising since he wrote it).
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Was very saddened to hear this news last night. Well done Reg on taking the time to give a wonderful tribute to a great British institution. I'll really miss his Xylophone exploits too which only served to make him even more fascinating to me while growing up. I do hope his hometown has the good sense to turn his residence into a museum of sorts. Would be great for all those not fortunate to have witnessed his genius and eccentricity while he was alive to experience the lifes work of such a legend.
Rest in Piece me old monocle'd mate! A star amongst stars.
The man was an unrepentant bigot. He though women had no place being on TV - and if they had to be, should have a TV channel of their own. Also a thorough-going racist, by all accounts (and I'm talking of accounts by people I know who met him and had the misfortune to know him reasonably well).
What he did, he did well. He's left a great legacy in terms of inspiring people in the realm of science and astronomy. But as a person, no great loss...
His views on women were a bit 1920s ! But so are those of the majority of churches and yet we let them carry on.
Having spoken to other people who knew him professionally - I don't think racist is fair. Just very anti-european, specifically anti-German. And anti- the hypocracy that we must have a race relations act, saying you can't say anything about race - championed by a succession of governments who are all rich white eton-educated anglicans.
...last night I saw Heather Couper reading out a letter he sent her when she wrote to him asking if being a girl was a handicap when it came to being an astronomer. He was charming and answered that it was no handicap at all and that she should strive to become an astronomer if she was interested.
So I don't quite buy the misogynist aspect of Patrick, I've seen him on the telly for my whole life and I've never seen him be anything other than charming and very interesting and talented.
I certainly won't be thinking bigoted thoughts when I look up at the stars.
You obviously failed to see the much repeated BBC obituary items where Heather Couper showed her letter which Sir Patrick wrote to her about her question as to whether sexism was a problem in astronomy. The reply was, "Let me reassure you on one point. Being a girl is no handicap at all".
You are also presumably unaware that many broadcasters cultivate an exaggerated version of their own personalities as an image tool. Some admit to it, others don't. Sir Patrick also had far longer than most to add to his on-screen persona.
Either cite your 'sources' or continue being as close-minded as the man you purport to have disliked.
is this the same Patrick Moore that wrote to a young Heather Couper (she read the letter out on a news programme yesterday) that "being a girl is no handicap to becoming an astronomer"?
The same Moore that resigned as a County Secretary for Boy Scouts in N. Ireland because they wouldn't let Catholics in?
The same Moore that suggested that the BBC was being ruined by programmes for women - soap-operas, quizzes, cookery programmes; and these should be on a separate channel.
What an unrepentant bigot.
Well volunteered Dick, so you'll be down your nearest mosque tomorrow with a placard and megaphone protesting about men and women having to use separate entrances and segregated seating?
After all, your values are universally right aren't they, so you MUST impose them on everybody else.
So only certain people deserve the wrath of your idealism?
So was my granddad.
Sir Patrick Moore was 89 years old. Like my granddad, he was born and raised at a time when wives really did stay at home. (They didn't have much choice: we still had outdoor toilets and mangles back then; many homes either still had gas lighting, or had to plug their very few appliances into electric light fittings as there was no standard for wall sockets at the time.)
It wasn't until the 1950s that society started to move towards greater equality in the workplace. Even today, there are still issues of pay equality.
Furthermore, Sir Patrick Moore served in the RAF during WW2. He lived through six years of relentless wartime anti-German propaganda, found the love of his life killed by enemy bombing raids, saw his brothers in arms killed in action and was also shot down himself. You do not get to demand he switches instantly from anti-German to pro-German overnight on VE day.
Individual mental injuries take an entire lifetime, and may never heal entirely. Socio-cultural traumas on that scale take generations to heal. (Why do you think insulting the French is such a British tradition?)
VE Day marked the end of the fighting, but not the damage it caused. Wars do not end when the bullets stop flying. For many, the nightmares continue for the rest of their lives. We have a convenient label for this now: PTSD. And every war we've been involved in since WW2 has produced its own PTSD-suffering walking wounded. Their damage is inside, invisible to the naked eye. But it is there nonetheless.
You'd think we'd have learned this as a society by now, but no. We still get ignorant posts like yours.
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I've been lucky to catch most of the recent episodes of the Sky at Night... how could I not, with recent events such as the landing of Curiosity on Mars, and the deaths of Neil Armstrong and Sir Bernard Lovell of radio telescope fame (covered on the same episode?). Not to mention the ongoing journeys of the Voyager probes as they begin to enter interstellar space...
I was of an age to be the target audience for Gamesmaster, but was already aware of who he was... and remembered at the time (a re-run, obviously) Monty Python parodying his verbal delivery. My favourite was the Radio 4 version of Dead Ringers, ringing him up in the voice of Tom Baker's Doctor Who. "Davros is planning an invasion of Earth from Mars, but we don't know from where on the Red Planet he is basing his invasion"... Sir Patrick didn't miss a beat, and immediately gave three likely spots, as well as concisely giving his reasoning behind the choices, before picking the most likely. A prank call done with affection (John Culshaw has appeared in recent episodes of The Sky At Night, including an anniversary edition) which allowed the 'victim' the best lines. (Though John Culshaw as 'The Doctor' ringing up Tom Baker himself was priceless... "I am the Doctor" / "No, I am the Doctor... y'know, I always fancied Davros" )
That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, just as I do the short period of time between the first heavier-than-air manned flight and the first man on the moon.
Seemed like a great bloke to me, and still brings a smile to my face thinking about some of his eccentricities, and the first Astronomy book I got from the library as a kid was one of his.
If he did hold some personal views which some people disagree with at least he kept them to himself and just did what he was good at. Unlike so many so called celebrities these days who think their opinions are so important that they have to be foisted on the rest of us.
Stick him into a photon torpedo tube and fire him off into the Milky Way !
Apparently he met all three.
"many so called celebrities these days who think their opinions are so important that they have to be foisted on the rest of us."
What are the odds of something like Sky At Night getting commissioned in the UK these days?
I'd imagine that since BBC4 the chances of Sky At Night like programming has gone up somewhat - I'm currently watching a series on a history of rubbish disposal in the UK and have an ongoing "most boring sounding documentary that turned out to be the most interesting." with a friend.
(In case you were wondering, I'm winning with a socio-political history of the shipping container.)
BBC 4 has some very good factual stuff, science in particular, it's well worth a look.
... asking his opinion on some of my ideas for my school D&T project. I was absolutely stunned to receive his reply, typed on a filing card (now I know what the typewriter was!) and signed. Life-changing stuff when you're 14... I still have that card, somewhere.
Sir, this starry night I raise my glass to you.
Likewise! I wrote to him after reading his autobiography "80 Not Out" to not only say how much I had enjoyed it but to also point out a bunch of typos and mistakes. He replied saying he knew all about the mistakes and had sent a list of them to the printers who had then lost the corrections and printed it as is anyway! He sounded quite annoyed!
I actually had the rare honour of being invited to his home when I was 10. He had been giving a presentation for a lunch at my dad's place of work. They started chatting and he invited us all over. I got to see Mars through the massive telescope in his back garden and he asked me to sketch what I saw. I think I still have the drawing in a signed book he gave me. Later that evening he brought out his wooden xylophone and taught my sister how to play a couple of songs.
The man was a true legend and leaves behind a fantastic legacy.
As I wrote somewhere else on this site, "What a bloke".
A meeting with Sir Patrick was one you can never, ever forget.
I seem to remember the reason he never remarried after his fiancé was killed. He said something like "There was only one girl I loved. How can I accept second best?"
Lovely man. I don't think we will ever see the likes of him again - ever.
He never claimed to be a professional astronomer, but he was exactly what every great teacher and mentor should be: infectiously enthusiastic, and a great communicator.
He gave us memories and learning. As with all the great teachers and communicators, the memories he gave us to keep are unforgettable. That's what I call immortality.
You're absolutely right. These days the BBC (and others) like to employ academics as presenters. Many of these, but by no means all, are duller than a very dull thing and couldn't make their subject sound interesting if their lives depended on it.
It seems production companies believe that expertise is more important than the ability to communicate on the subject under discussion. Worse still these people then become more general presenters and are employed to talk about subjects of which they know nothing.
My favouritest story about Patrick was the one about the stamps. Apparently he would stick the stamp on a letter anywhere other than the approved top right corner of the envelope. In the days of hand sorting this harmless eccentricity was no problem, but when automatic sorting machines came along they couldn't cope and his letters had to be hand sorted. So one day the Royal Mail sent him a letter (presumably working out who he was from the return address) asking him in future to place the stamp in the correct place.
Patrick replied to this letter with the address written to one side of the letter, allowing him to place the stamp in the centre of the envelope. The reply read simply, "Hey diddle diddle, the stamp's in the middle."
And that's one more eccentric gone.
While he wasn't someone you could apply only one label to, what with his comments about women, Europe etc, he had the ability to take a joke with a smile and a laugh.
Anyone remember 'The Two Ronnies' send-up of The Sky At Night? Sir Patrick happily showed clips of it on one of his shows and looked vastly amused doing it.
Passionate about things he believed in, very educated, eccentric and very English. We won't see his like again.
RIP, Sir Patrick, I hope all your questions are answered now.
Not being of the British persuasion, the first time I saw Moore on 'the sky at night' many moons ago, I was just zapping along at some unholy hour and I came aross this funny talking bloke with a monocle and eyebrows that were clearly following their own script.
Initially I thought I'd come across some Monty Python episode I hadn't seen up to then, half expecting four blokes in a dress jumping into view yelling 'no one expects the Spanish inquisition !'.
Over the years I kept watching his contributions, however, and he always had interesting stuff to share, and somehow he always managed to go about it in a way that made you want to watch it and learn a bit. He never lost the mad professor look though. I expect he cultivated it to some extent.
I always found it a shame they didn't put him on at a more sensible hour.
May he roam the great expanse forever. If he so believed.
I met him at the Greenwich Observatory during the Meridian centenary celebrations during the 80's. We were in the Telescope dome and he just happened to be standing next to me. I was probably ten at the time, but when asked he said hello and was awfully pleasant to a starstruck child. He brought character to Astronomy!
He was proud to have met one of the Wright Brothers (first man to fly a powered aircraft), Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong.
I had not realise he accompanied Albert E on the piano
For all his faults (and I heard him in an interview expounding his rather xenophobic views once when after a bref rant he reflected 'actually, that's not very nice is it?' about his own opinion), he was an enthusiast, who communicated his enthusiasm with panache.
He also recorded a little dot by saturn one night, which he did not realise was a then unknown moon, re-discovered by a NASA probe. He did discover a crater on the Moon, due to its remainign wobble it shows slightly more than 50% of its face to us.
Thre cheers for Sir Patrick..
....and took great delight in sending cheques, late, unsigned, and stapled 50 times to the remittance slip, under the bit that said "do not write below this line".
You might smirk but, having consumed the service in question (he hated phone bills in particular) he was then reluctant to pay for it. Ha ha yes very funny but the net effect of such behaviour is to increase the 'cost to recover' for each utility company and guess what happens then? yes, they increase their prices. For someone so smart he didn't really do the maths there.
How do I know? I used to work for 'Post Office Telephones' back in the day and they expeded huge amounts of resource just to appease him and entice him to pay.
Not just at the loss of a national treasure that I never tired of listening to, but at so many comments so eager to try and paint his understandable loathing of Germany or his politics as reasons to belittle this intellectual colossus.
Possibly the only man to meet first man to fly, first man in space and first man on the moon, xylophonist , composer, lunar cartographer, author, presenter, animal rights campaigner... and the first thing some people can comment on is he was not PC enough.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
I was lucky enough to get to know him quite well for a few years while I was at University. I was studying Astrophysics and Patrick was one of our guest lecturers on the Introduction to Astronomy courses. In my second and third years I was the President of the Astrophysics Society and had the honour of taking Patrick over to the pub for lunch every time he came to lecture. We used to talk about Cricket, Sky at Night and of course Astronomy and he could drink me under the table easily!
In my third year, he'd just come back from the JPL labs as Pasedena as Voyager 2 had just done its fly-by of Saturn and I was editing a magazine for the department which aimed to explain what all the researchers were actually doing. I was a bit cheeky and asked Patrick if he could write something about the Saturn discoveries, thinking he'd send it to me sometime later. "No problem" he said,"Find me a typewriter and some coffee, I've got half and hour before I'm supposed to do this lecture" Wow! so I did and 20 minutes later he handed me 6 sides of typescript with hardly a single mistake! Sensibly, I got him to autograph and date it and I still have it!
I didn't get to see him on TV, but his books riveted me, and focused my interest in astronomy. I wanted to be an astronomer until I found they don't actually look through the telescopes these days---it's still one of my main interests, though.
As for eccentricity, thanks to him I was the only kid on my block who knew what a blancmange was, decades before Monty Python.
He added much to my life, and I thank him for it.