Lifestyle

Man who took us into space dies with friends and beloved cat

Tributes have flooded in for amateur astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.
Tributes have flooded in for amateur astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

Sir Patrick Moore, who has died at the age of 89, will be remembered as the man who inspired several generations of children to look up at the sky at night and dream of other worlds.

Following an infection several weeks ago that left him in hospital but unable to respond to further treatment, Sir Patrick asked to spend his last days at his home, Farthings, in the company of his friends, carers and beloved pet cat Ptolemy.

Britain's most recognisable amateur astronomer, who presented the BBC's The Sky At Night for more than 50 years, had suffered several serious bouts of illness over the past few years but this time he was too weak to recover, according to close friends.

Tributes flooded in today for the man who popularised the field of space and astronomy for more than half a century in his distinctively eccentric style epitomised by an ill-fitting suit, monocle over his right eye and erudite speech delivered at a rate of 300 words a minute.

Brian May, the guitarist of the Queen who also has a PhD in astrophysics, said that Sir Patrick was an inspiration to him and many others both through his personal life and his 50 years of television broadcasting.

"It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century," Dr May said.

"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," he said.

"Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one," he added.

Brian Cox, the particle physicist and television presenter, tweeted: "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped to inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!"

Sir Patrick, who was born on 4 March 1923, said his interest in astronomy began as a small child when he came across a book called Guide to The Solar System.

"I picked up that book by sheer luck and sat down by the armchair and read it through. I understood most of it, which wasn't bad for a six-year-old," he later remembered.

As a young man he knew Albert Eistein and even accompanied the great physicist, who was a keen violinist, on the piano. Sir Patrick often composed music and was an exuberant player of the xylophone.

David Whitehouse, a former BBC science correspondent who knew Sir Patrick well, said that he loved astronomy more than himself but he was not always an easy man to work with.

"He was passionate, he was dedicated and had an unselfish love of astronomy and he passed that on to everybody who knew him and he came across," Dr Whitehouse said.

"He was a difficult person personally to deal with on many occasions, he was sometimes awkward, truculent and stubborn but that was Patrick, that was part of his remarkable personality which so many people came to enjoy and love," he said.

Although Sir Patrick was never trained professionally in astronomy, he did carry out pioneer work on mapping the Moon in the 1950s, and a decade later did some of the television commentary for the Apollo Moon landings.

Sir Patrick never married, saying that he would not accept second best after his fiancée, Lorna, died in an air raid when the ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb during the Second World War.

His eccentricity extended into his political leanings, being the finance officer of the Monster Raving Loony Party and a leading member of the newly-founded UK Independence Party

But the stars and planets were his first love, along with music and cricket.

He once said that he would like to be remembered as an amateur astronomer who played cricket and the xylophone.

Topics:  editors picks, tribute




Bomb squad now in possession of suspicious device

Fragments of a suspicious device that were found underneath a park bench in an Ipswich park this morning.

Device is a "magnet attached to...small, cylindrical metal object"

Teacher retires after 37 years at Ipswich Central

Gerard Wilkins outside the building that now bears his name at Ipswich Central State School.

Gerard Wilkins reflects on his teaching career

Latest deals and offers

Kristen Bell's baby confession

Kristen Bell once pretended to be asleep when her baby woke up early

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Mum driver heroically ignores hilarious lip-syncing son

Hilarious moves while Mum concentrates on the road.

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, why aren't they driving?

Twitter adds dancing David Brent emoji

Ricky Gervais's character has its own emoji now

Cyndi Lauper opens up about mother's dementia

Cyndi Lauper says her mother Catrine has "a little dementia".

What's on this weekend

Join in the fun of the annual Park2Park races at Limestone Park on Sunday, and help the Ipswich Hospital Foundation raise money for youth mental health services.

Park2Park, Park Jam, the Sydney Comedy Festival and much more

Australia Post to open at Orion

Australia Post.

Service to open to customers in late August

Town with 'unique country flair' will be ruined: resident

Jonathan Emms of Rosewood is concerned about a proposed townhouse development for this John Street block of land.

Residents concerned by high density development proposal

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb