Britain’s iconic TV astronomer Patrick Moore died Sunday of natural causes at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, England. He was 89.
Moore presented the BBC show “The Sky at Night” for over 50 years, which made him the longest-running host of the same TV show of all time. He missed only one episode when he was ill due to a bout of food poisoning.
Moore was a prolific writer on astronomy whose research was used by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union in their space programs.
An archetypal British eccentric who wore a monocle onscreen, Moore looked like Hollywood’s idea of the nutty professor. However, his obvious love for his subject inspired amateur astronomers of several generations to take up stargazing.
Onscreen his energy and enthusiasm for astronomy, delivered at breakneck speed, broadened his appeal beyond those with knowledge of the subject.
Moore fronted the first edition of “The Sky at Night” in April 1957. His final appearance was screened by the BBC last week.
Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born at Pinner, Middlesex, England. A weak heart meant he spent much of his childhood being educated at home. He became a voracious reader, and a book given to him by his mother, G.F. Chambers’ “The Story of the Solar System,” was the stepping stone to his lifelong love of astronomy.
He was due to attend Cambridge U. but Moore’s academic career was derailed by WWII. Moore lied about his age and joined the Royal Air Force at 16, serving as a navigator with Bomber Command.
He received many honors during his lengthy career. In 1968, he was appointed OBE and promoted to CBE in 1988. In 2001, he was knighted for “services to the popularization of science and to broadcasting.”
In the same year, he was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society, the only amateur astronomer ever to achieve this distinction.
In 2002, Aldrin presented Moore with a BAFTA for services to television.
Moore never married. His fiancee, Lorna, was killed during the war after an ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb.