SIR PATRICK MOORE Dec 10, 2012 21:34:17 GMT 1
Post by Laurence on Dec 10, 2012 21:34:17 GMT 1
Sir Patrick Moore the monocled English amateur astronomer and presenter of the world's longest-running television series with the same original presenter, The Sky at Night, almost single-handedly made astronomy popular by bringing it into the homes of millions of viewers. His series become the cornerstone for the television presentation of the science, successfully nurturing an ardently dedicated following of space enthusiasts, whilst winning deserved professional acclaim. Over the course of its landmark history, the series succeed in not only effortlessly explaining complex astronomical theory to a layman audience, but has also inspired many to enter future careers in the science, leading to many remarkable discoveries about the nature of the universe itself.
Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born on 4 March 1923 in Pinner in Middlesex. As a child he suffered poor health and as a result had to be tutored at home. At the age of six he developed an interest in astronomy and joined the British Astronomical Association at the age of eleven. In 1939 he was told that his rightr eye was weaker than the left and began wearing what was to become his trademark monocle. At the age of sixteen Moore joined the RAF (lying about his age) and served as a navigator in RAF Bomber Command reaching the rank of flight lieutenant. During this time he met both Albert Einstein and Orville Wright. But it was also a tragic time for him. In 1943 his fiancée, a nurse called Lorna, was killed by a bomb which struck her ambulance in London. Moore never married and later admitted "there was no one else for me."
After the war, Moore rejected a government grant to study at Cambridge University and in 1952 he wrote his first book Guide to the Moon. He also began teaching, first in Woking and then at Holmewood House School in Langton Green until 1953. During his time as a teacher at Holmewood he set up at his home a 12½ inch reflector telescope, which he kept with him into his old age. He made his first television appearance in a debate over the existence of flying saucers following a spate of reported sightings in the 1950s; Moore argued against Lord Dowding and a few other UFO proponents, and almost as a direct result he was invited to present a live astronomy programme. On 26 April 1957, at 10:30 pm, Moore presented the first episode of The Sky at Night, which was about the Comet Arend–Roland. Moore presented every episode each month, except July 2004, when he was replaced by Chris Lintott because Moore suffered a near-fatal bout of food poisoning caused by eating a contaminated goose egg. Moore appears in the Guinness World Records book as the world's longest-serving TV presenter, by virtue of having presented the show since 1957. From 2004 to 2012, the programme was presented from Moore's home in Selsey, Sussex, West Sussex, as he was no longer able to travel to the studios, owing to arthritis. Over the years he received many more financially lucrative offers to take his programme onto other networks, but rejected them because he held a 'gentlemen's agreement' with the BBC.
Because of his long-running television career and eccentric demeanour, Moore was widely recognised and became a popular public figure. Aside from presenting The Sky at Night, Moore appeared in a number of other television and radio shows, including Just a Minute and, from 1992 until 1998, playing the role of GamesMaster in the television show of the same name: a character who professed to know everything there is to know about video gaming. He also appeared in self-parodying roles, in several episodes of The Goodies and on The Morecambe and Wise Show. He also appeared as himself in the Doctor Who episode The Eleventh Hour. Until being forced to give up owing to arthritis, Moore was a keen pianist and accomplished xylophone player, having first played the instrument at the age of thirteen and once accompanied Albert Einstein playing The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns on the violin.
In 1945, Moore was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; in 1977 he was awarded the society's Jackson-Gwilt Medal. In 1968, he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and promoted to a commander (CBE) of the order in 1988. In 1999 he became the honorary president of the East Sussex Astronomical Society, a position which he held until his death. In 2001, he was knighted for "services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting". In 2002, Buzz Aldrin presented Moore with a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for services to television.
Moore died at his West Sussex home on 9 December 2012. Friends and members of Moore's staff released a statement; "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. Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and continued to work and write at a great rate, but this time his body was too weak to overcome the infection which set in a few weeks ago. He was able to perform on his world record-holding TV Programme The Sky at Night right up until the most recent episode. British space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock said she was first inspired to "look at the night sky" through Moore, saying that "What he did was something very straightforward - he would tell us what to look for and where to look for it, which for budding astronomers everywhere is what we need - that information. But he would tell us more; he would go into depth; he would take us on a journey through space, and we can't ask for better than that really."