back to article Patrick Moore: Lived with cats, accompanied Einstein on the piano

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 …


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  1. EyeCU

    Look to the stars

    And raise a pint in memory. You will be missed Patrick

    1. EyeCU


      Forgot the important bit, the beer!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He was a bit

      Odd though.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: He was a bit

        "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?

      2. Peter Simpson 1

        Re: He was a bit

        That's what makes him interesting. Odd and intelligent is a great combination.


  2. Z-Eden

    RIP Patrick. A great man and you'll be missed. Truly an inspiration to Boffins everywhere!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One of the greats. RIP and thanks for everything.

  4. jai


    What? No mention of his sterling contribution to the GamesMaster tv show?

    Regardless, the man was an utter legend and will be surely missed :(

    I hope they name a star, or a black hole, or an Intergallactic Destroyer spaceship after him or something, he surely deserves it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      and no mention of his starring (well, via video tape) role in Return to the Forbidden Planet ?

      1. Christoph

        Re: WTF?

        and no mention of "Bureaucrats – How To Annoy Them" by "RT Fishall" ?

    2. Hieronymus Howerd

      Re: WTF?

      and no mention of his sterling work promoting the right-wing nutjobs over at UKIP?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      He has an asteroid (2602 Moore), but it's a shame he didn't get a crater on the Moon. His charts of the lunar surface were the best we had until the space age.

      Hmmm there isn't a crater on the Moon called Moore - yet...

      Who's up to nuke the Moon in his honour?

    4. Mips

      Re: WTF?

      Pitty Moore's Law is already taken.

    5. PatientOne

      Re: WTF?

      I may be the only person who remembers him in 'Independence Day UK', particularly when he engaged in fisticuffs with an alien...

      Wonder where I put that tape...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF?

        well, just based on the wikipedia entry alone (, this sounds _awesome_. Hope you find the tape!

  5. Captain Hogwash


    What? No mention of his sterling contribution to Birr Castle as a disembodied tour guide?

  6. Ian 62

    If only to do half as much

    Here's hoping I'm able to do half as much in my life as he did in his.

    RIP Sir.

  7. Red Bren

    An inspiration

    I've still got the Sky at Night newsletter on Halley's comet somewhere in the attic.

  8. sandman

    A Sad Loss

    Orbit in peace

  9. Qwelak

    The end of an Era

    RIP Sir Patrick, one of a kind now gone. Always loved Sky at Night though didn't follow it as often as I'd have liked. Pleased to have caught his last show (quite by chance) last week.

    Cheers for everything.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: The end of an Era

      Probably more the fault of the BBC than yours. That buch of fairies are more interested in buggering children than doing the nation a decent service.

  10. Christopher Slater-Walker

    Good job he wasn't a diplomat

    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.

    1. Mike 125

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      Since you have "had the luxury throughout my life never to have experienced what he went through." then why the hell do you find his views "remarkable"? There's more to life than being a diplomat. Idiot.

      RIP Sir Patrick.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      Well thats not an uncommon opinion of people of his age, especially as his Fiancee was killed by a German bomb.

      1. wowfood

        Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

        You say it's lucky he's not a diplomat. How about royalty since I do believe Prince Phillip shared the exact same viewpoint.

    3. jai

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      Citation needed.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Citation needed.


        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.

        1. elderlybloke

          Re: Citation needed.

          "I don't know what he did in the RAF "

          He was a Navigator in Bomber Command.

          Von Braun was a Major in the SS, and was certainly a War Criminal.

        2. Magnus_Pym

          Re: Citation needed.

          "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"

          Citation definitely needed FFS!

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      His politics were pretty objectionable. I agree that he did an awful lot for astronomy in Britain and was not afraid to send himself up but his politics should have remained private.

      Eulogies are better when they are properly critical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

        Shush Charlie, we all know it's bad taste to suggest the deceased are anything other than perfect!

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

          Shush Charlie, we all know it's bad taste to suggest the deceased are anything other than perfect!

          Yeah, I forgot that I was posting on the Daily Mail forum.

          1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

            Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

              Actually, rabid Lutherinasm in the late 19th and early 20th century had quite a lot to do with fostering it too.

              1. cyborg

                Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

                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.

    5. TheRealWelshCJ

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      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.

      RIP Moore.

    6. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

        "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.

    7. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      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.

      1. Gob Smacked

        Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

        "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...

    8. Paul Dx

      Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

      He also visited Dachau concentration camp whilst with the RAF.

      I think that might have a slight bearing on his feelings towards Germans ...

  11. Anonymous Coward


    ... to a unique character and bloody useful human being.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    It would have been rather more interesting to have lived with Einstein and accompanied cats on the piano.

  13. proto-robbie

    RIP Sir Patrick

    Anyone of us in Britain looking skywards with an iota of familiarity of the stars has him to thank for it. A wonderful man, and what a sad loss to science broadcasting and astronomy in this country.

    1. Gob Smacked

      Re: RIP Sir Patrick

      I'm no Brit and I'm sure that his influence went far beyond my Dutch borders...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do think it would be appropriate

    To send him up on the next satellite in his casket and jettison it in the general direction of somewhere other than here, such that if we ever do make physical contact with someone else out there, he might be the first to do so.


  15. Mr_Pitiful


    I had a letter from him when I was 10, Inviting me to join his news letter

    Which I did, and received until recently

    He was such an inspiration to me over the years, as was Carl Sagan

    A toast to you my friend, I hope you're up there enjoying the 'SPACE'

  16. Soruk

    Take your place amongst the stars, Sir Patrick, and join your beloved Lorna who has been patiently waiting for you up there.

  17. Robert Grant

    Awesome eulogy

    Well done El Reg.

  18. a_mu

    he will be missed ,

    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.

  19. Stevie


    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).

    1. Miek

      Re: Damn.

      He was also Gamesmaster! Used to love that show, but, not as much as the Sky at Night.

      <<< Here's to you Patrick

  20. ukgnome

    Shone as bright as any star!

    You gave us a reason to look up.

    And you helped us get past that difficult level on Earthworm Jim.

    You met Einstein.

    And your maps helped put a man on the moon.

    Truly a British gent of the highest order, a legend, one of a kind.

  21. GregC

    RIP Sir Patrick

    I've been watching The Sky At Night for as long as I can remember, and he had the rare gift of communicating sometimes complicated information with clarity and obvious love for his subject. You'll be sorely missed, Sir.

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  23. What of IT?

    Will be missed.

    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.

    1. What of IT?

      Re: Will be missed.

      Peace not Piece ;)

  24. Christine Hedley Silver badge

    A wonderful, inspirational man and a top eccentric. Goodbye, Patrick, you'll be missed.

  25. jkt2

    Raising a glass...

    I'll be raising a jar to Sir Patrick tonight, he'll be missed, but what an awesome legacy he left behind to both science and in the art of civility :)

  26. Stratman

    If anyone's ashes deserve to be scattered in the cosmos it's those of Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore.

  27. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    A Gent and a Scholar...

    Not to mention a classic barking-mad true British Eccentric, complete with monocle. Thoroughly under-appreciated in these times of X-Factor, celeb chefs and premiership footballers.

    A sad day indeed.

  28. Dick Kennedy
    Thumb Down

    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...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The majority of churches don't say women shouldn't be on TV. I'd suggest your view on churches is formed without actually going inside any.

        NB: saying women can't operate in the highest level of church authority isn't "a bit 1920s" or like saying women should stay at home.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          >The majority of churches don't say women shouldn't be on TV

          No they graciously allowed women to speak in church after 1962 and in 1994 allowed them on the altar during concecration.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      And yet....

      ...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.

    3. The Serpent

      @Dick Kennedy

      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Potty Pol

      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.

      Thought not.

      So only certain people deserve the wrath of your idealism?

    6. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      "The man was an unrepentant bigot."

      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.

    7. Werner McGoole


      I think people mostly appreciated him for his work in astronomy where he was an acknowledged expert. The fact he didn't contribute much to political correctness is pretty irrelevant as I don't think many people consulted him over that.

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Ashton Black

    RIP Very sad.

    <a href="">GamesMaster</a>

  31. Dave 126 Silver badge

    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.

  32. David Given
    Thumb Up

    Science Fiction author, too

    I have some of his books. They're terrible. Utterly, utterly terrible, and worth reading for that reason alone.

  33. Martyn 1

    Farewell to the one time finance minister of the Monster Raving Loony party :-(

    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 !

  34. ravenviz Silver badge

    Patrick Moore presented us with our Astronomy degree certificates back in 1989, a true privilege!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, "

    Orville Wright.

    Yuri Gagarin.

    Neil Armstrong.

    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."

    Wise words.

    What are the odds of something like Sky At Night getting commissioned in the UK these days?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "That Patrick Moore met Orville Wright I find amazing, "

      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.

  36. vonBureck

    I wrote to him once...

    ... 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.

    1. DJV Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I wrote to him once...

      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!

  37. Thomas 4

    I'll miss him

    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.

  38. wiggers

    "Born in Sussex"

    No, he was born in Pinner, Middlesex, near where I used to deliver newspapers as a lad.

  39. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Some of the most interesting people usually turn out to be eccentric, and Sir Patrick was no exception.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patrick Moore: No Longer Visible To The Naked Eye

    R I P --- one of the voices of my childhood. The Sky At Night started when I was five.

    A sad loss, but a grand old age, and working until the end

  41. Andus McCoatover

    I met him once.

    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.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.

    Was it a xylophone or a glockenspiel...

    PS...Clear skies Sir Patrick...

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.

      It was, indeed a xylophone. Glockenspiel has metal bars, xylophone has wooden ones. Since his fiancee was killed by the Germans, I hardly think his choice of instrument would be the former, somehow.....

    2. Stratman

      Re: I have a memory of Sir Patrick chastising someone for saying it was a xylophone.

      Xylophone = wood+sound.

      Glockenspiel = Bells+play

  43. Paul Dx

    You single-handedly brought the cosmos alive for so many people and are owed a huge debt of gratitude by British astronomy.

    There's a new star in heaven but the night sky is darker.

  44. TheWeddingPhotographer

    Like many of my age, having been brought up with him "always there in the background of science" I owe him a debt of gratitude. He showed how to be committed, and remained inspiration and sharp till the end. There is a huge void now. A big pair of boots to fill. Will be missed by many RIP PM

  45. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    On my way home this evening

    I stopped the car at the darkest point on the journey (Exmoor can be really dark), and got out of the car.

    The sky was a jewelled spectacle, and I said a farewell to Patrick with a heart both sad and joyous at the same time.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: On my way home this evening

      I noticed the stars have been especially bright these last nights, even from London. A fitting tribute!

  46. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    A great communicator.

    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.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: A great communicator.

      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.

  47. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    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.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      What an excellent story!

  48. markw:

    RIP Sir Patrick

    You will be missed...

  49. Giacomo Bruzzo

    Absolute Legend

    And a musician not devoid of a sense of humour.

  50. Kharkov

    RIP, Sir Patrick Moore.

    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.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    It's funny...

    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.

  52. Arrrggghh-otron

    A Glass was raised. Cheers Patrick!

  53. Tim 69

    A very pleasant chap...

    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!

  54. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    What no mention that

    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..

  55. David Lawrence

    He hated utility companies and their bills

    ....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.

  56. whitespacephil

    A tear in my eye

    I can genuinely say that I have tears in my eyes right now at my desk at work.

    Some truly touching words about what I remember as being a massive character.

    Rest in peace. I will be studying the sky at night, tonight

  57. Spider


    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.

  58. BoldMan

    A legend

    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!

  59. Steve K

    Old, but a fitting tribute

    This has been round a while, but I think it says it all, or something

  60. Terry Cloth
    Thumb Up

    Not just on your side of the pond

    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.

  61. Minophis


    A man cut from the same cloth as David Attenborough. An endearing and commited educator with an infectious passion for his chosen field and an inspiration for so many.

    He will be greatly missed.

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