Veteran astronomer Sir Patrick Moore dies at 89

FOR more than half a century, he was Britain’s guide to the heavens, bringing astronomy to generations of star gazers.

• Presenter of the world’s longest-running TV series dies at home after spell in hospital.

Sir Patrick Moore, the host of the world’s longest-running TV programme, died on Sunday at the age of 89.

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Friends and carers, who were with him at the end, announced that he had passed away peacefully at 12:25pm.

As well as 55 years of The Sky at Night, he was well known to computer games enthusiasts for playing the computer-generated host of seven series of GamesMaster in the 1990s.

Despite being wheelchair bound and unable to look through a telescope because of ill health in later years, he continued to present, and was last seen on The Sky at Night on Monday last week.

In a statement, friends said the lifelong bachelor was unable to overcome an infection that had set in a few weeks ago.

“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 passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat, Ptolemy,” they said.

Queen guitarist Brian May, who holds a PhD in astrophysics, led the chorus of praise, saying the world had “lost a priceless treasure that can never be replaced” and he had lost a “dear friend and kind of father figure”.

May added: “Patrick was the last of a lost generation, a true gentleman, the most generous in nature that I ever knew, and an inspiration to thousands in his personal life, and to millions through his 50 years of unique 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.”

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He added: “Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one.”

Tributes poured in through social media with many thanking Sir Patrick for inspiring them to look up as children.

He became the top trending topic on the Twitter news website as word spread of his passing.

Professor Brian Cox, who presents a number of science programmes for the BBC, tweeted: “Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!”

Former BBC science correspondent and fellow astronomer Dr David Whitehouse said: “He was a difficult person to deal with on many occasions. He was sometimes awkward, truculent, stubborn, but that was Patrick, that was part of his remarkable personality which so many people came to enjoy and love.

“He was not a professionally trained astronomer and yet did professional quality work, particularly when it came to mapping the Moon in the 1950s – I think every astronomer in the world owes something to Patrick Moore.”

A private interment is planned, according his wishes, but a more public “farewell event” will be held on what would have been his 90th birthday in March.

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