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Television United Kingdom

Sir Patrick Moore Dies Aged 89 130

First time accepted submitter Tastecicles writes "Patrick Moore, the monocled surveyor of the sky who awakened in millions of people an interest in galactic goings on, has died at 89. His love of astronomy began at the age of six, and that childhood curiosity developed into a lifelong passion. It was a passion he shared through his program, The Sky at Night, which he presented for more than 50 years, only ever missing one episode due to illness. Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born at Pinner, Middlesex on 4 Mar 1923. Heart problems meant he spent much of his childhood being educated at home and he became an avid reader. His mother gave him a copy of GF Chambers' book The Story of the Solar System, and this sparked his lifelong passion for astronomy. He was soon publishing papers about the moon's surface, based on observations made with his first three-inch telescope. His 1908 vintage typewriter enabled him to publish more than a thousand books on subjects ranging from astronomy, his first love, to cricket, golf, and music."
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Sir Patrick Moore Dies Aged 89

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  • by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:19PM (#42233933)
    I hardly ever watched his show but I feel we're the poorer for him no longer being alive. News reports suggest he knew he only had a few days to live but still chose to present his last show rather than spending the time on preparing. Thats dedication. RIP
  • Very sad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smivs ( 1197859 ) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:19PM (#42233937) Homepage Journal
    He will be greatly missed. Amongst his many claims to fame was the fact that during his lifetime he met the first man to fly, the first man to go into space and the first man to step on the Moon. R.I.P.
  • Re:Very sad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:35PM (#42234043)
    He also played [weebls-stuff.com] the [youtube.com] xylophone. [youtube.com]
  • Re:Very sad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:37PM (#42234049) Journal
    He was born the year that Hubble made the observations which showed there were galaxies other than our Milky Way, during his lifetime the scale of the (understood) universe expanded by a factor of 100,000. As an amateur astronomer (he never gained any formal qualifications in the subject) he discovered a new crater on the Moon. He lived to see the discovery of a black hole at the center of our galaxy, every "first" in manned and robotic space flight and holds the record for the longest running TV presenter on a show.

    For those who prefer computer games, he played "The GamesMaster" on the British TV show of the same name, and his disembodied borg-like head would give out tips and cheats for various games.

    He was at the forefront of the fight against UFO nonsense (some would say too far, he refused to believe in any life outside the Earth) and was accused of ghost-writing a possibly satirical book called "Flying Saucers Are Real" as "Cedric Allingham", although he always strenuously denied this to the point of threatening legal action.

    Also an accomplished glockenspiel player and champion of the monocle.
  • Re:Very sad news (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tapewolf ( 1639955 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:42PM (#42234079)

    He also played [weebls-stuff.com] the [youtube.com] xylophone. [youtube.com]

    For those turned off by the first link (which is a spoof flash animation), the other two are actually true.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:52PM (#42234139)

    Also, summary missed out one of his other great TV appearances : as 'the gamesmaster'

    He also played a mean xylophone!

    However, if you were into space or astronomy as a kid, Moore's books were essential reading. I don't know how well known he is internationally, but in the UK. I can't think of anybody who has done more to not only popularise science, but to show how people could contribute without needing a PhD and a white coat. Plus I believe he made some pretty useful contributions himself, especially with his work on lunar mapping.

    A huge loss.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:23PM (#42234321)

    I read some of his books when I was a kid. I wondered how the hell he wrote so many books. I thought he was much older than 89 when I saw him talking online a few years ago ... Anyway I got disappointed when I found out he was a BNP supporter - an openly racist political party until recently when they claimed to be culturalist not racist (at the time he joined them they were openly racist and didn't allow minority members - a few years ago the British govt forced them to allow minorities). Also, he has made statements anti gay and anti-women comments. I would like to write that off as old age senility, but then he made those comments and joined BNP in his 70s.

  • Re:Very sad news (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:42PM (#42234471) Homepage

    NASA used his 'amateur' moon maps to plan Apollo missions...

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:50PM (#42234547) Homepage

    You might have a point if he was just some air-headed celebrity who never did anything except appear on TV.

    He wasn't, therefore you don't.

    This is the man who played duet with Einstein, made the maps used to plan the moon landings, and presented the longest running show in TV history with the same presenter (nearly 56 years!) - and it was a science show.

  • by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @02:02PM (#42234677)

    Really nice comment from Brian May:

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 09, 2012 @02:57PM (#42235189)

    He was at one time a BNP supporter (British National Party - racist)

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Moore#Activism_and_political_beliefs [wikipedia.org]

    No he wasn't. Where did you get that from??

    Maybe you misread the wikipedia article you quote:-

    He briefly supported the Liberal Party in the 1950s, though condemned the Liberal Democrats, stating that he believed that they could alter their position radically and "would happily join up with the BNP or the Socialist Workers Party... if [by doing so] they could win a few extra votes."

    Also from the same article he spent 5 years fighting the Nazis :-

    >>> Moore lied about his age in order to join the RAF and fight in World War II at the age of sixteen,[9] and from 1940 until 1945 he served as a navigator in RAF Bomber Command, reaching the rank of Flight lieutenant. He first received his flying training in Canada, during which time he met Albert Einstein and Orville Wright while on leave in New York.

    As to his views on women, maybe you've seen Heather Cooper on the news who wrote to him as a child asking if being a girl would be a handicap to becoming an astronomer and got a reply (he replied to everyone who wrote to him) stating, "Dear Miss Cooper, ...... Let me assure you that being a girl is no handicap at all" and gave her hints as to what would help - Study maths, science etc.

    I'll admit he had some old-fashioned views on some things like women in BBC and mass immigration but I don't think those views were things that shouldn't be said even if you (or I) don't necessarily agree with them and I don't think they detract from his good points.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:04PM (#42235229)

    He was at one time a BNP supporter (British National Party - racist) [snip] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Moore#Activism_and_political_beliefs [wikipedia.org]

    Unless it has changed in the last half hour, that article doesn't say what you think that it says. What it actually says is:

    [Moore] condemned the Liberal Democrats, stating that he believed that they could alter their position radically and "would happily join up with the BNP or the Socialist Workers Party ... if [by doing so] they could win a few extra votes."

    (BNP and SWP pretty much representing the two extreme ends of the UK political spectrum) and...

    he remained a supporter and patron of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party until his death.

    Note that UKIP is not the same as the BNP. Now, I don't support UKIP, don't like UKIP and am certainly not going to defend UKIP's immigration policies but they're an awfully long way from being the BNP.

    Put simply: if someone I knew joined UKIP, I'd argue with them. If they joined BNP I'd avoid them.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by coastwalker ( 307620 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [reklawtsaoca]> on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:44PM (#42235553) Homepage

    UKIP are a party particularly dedicated to getting the UK out of the European Union and find resonance with a lot of people in the UK who think that the country are getting a poor deal out of being in it. They also cite the European Union rules of unrestricted migration between members of the Union as causing breakdowns in social provisioning because of their unplanned nature. They emphatically deny that their opposition to unrestricted migration is because of racism but of course they do attract support from individuals who are racist because they are one of the few parties who do want to restrict migration.

    I do not believe myself that Patrick was likely to be motivated by racial questions. It would not match his lack of interest in class or education that illuminated his support for people interested in astronomy for one thing and another thing is that he was a man of science who moved with the times and would be easily persuaded by the science that now says that racial differences are peanuts compared to politics and culture. Racists in a word are stupid and Patrick was not stupid.

    You might argue that it would have been better for him to join a mainstream party and argue for them to make better provision for incoming migrants so that social provision for the existing population was not put under extreme pressure but at the time he joined UKIP any discussion of this nature was being sat on with the racist tag. The mainstream party's are only just beginning to take this issue seriously now. Sometimes it takes a pressure groups existence and popularity to get the mainstream to take peoples complaints seriously.

    I don't blame Mr Moore for joining a pressure group, particularly one that just came second in two out of three recent local elections, that's democracy for you, do it by the vote and not the bullet, that's what we do. I am not personally a UKIP voter but I do think the mainstream parties need to take note of the grievances of the people who do vote for them. We still believe in democracy here in the UK and the irritating pressure groups that have reasonable requests and dont encourage hatred are a useful part of civil society. UKIP do not encourage hatred unlike the BNP who are not regarded as a useful part of civil society by the majority in this country.

  • Great Interviewer (Score:5, Informative)

    by N7DR ( 536428 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:23AM (#42239175) Homepage

    I had the honour to meet Sir Patrick (then merely Patrick) in August 1989, and to be interviewed by him for the edition of "The Sky at Night" dedicated to the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYMfPsqJke8; for anyone that cares, my interview is about 10 minutes into the video). He always insisted that he was merely an "amateur astronomer", but I was impressed by his abilities as a scientific TV journalist: he knew exactly the right questions to ask to make a rather abstruse subject (radio emissions from Neptune) interesting to a non-scientific audience.

    I count myself amongst the many who devoured some of his semi-infinite number of books on astronomy as a child, and who then made a career of the subject. A great example of someone without formal training who nevertheless made a great contribution by making a sometimes-difficult subject accessible to the general public. Would that even a fraction of professional astronomers were half as enthusiastic as he was.

Why won't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.