Tags: moore | astronomer | tv | dead

Sir Patrick Moore, Legendary Astronomer, TV Host Dead at 89

Monday, 10 Dec 2012 11:03 AM

By Megan Anderle

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Sir Patrick Moore, British astronomer and television host of 50 years who was known for his eccentricity, died at the age of 89 at his home in England on Sunday.

The “Sky at Night” host on the BBC wrote more than 60 books on astronomy and inspired stargazers and experts alike. Moore was the longest running television host of the same program ever. He was well-respected for his research, which was used by the U.S. and Russia in their space programs, according to the BBC.

“The world has lost a priceless treasure that can never be replaced," Queen guitarist Brian May, who holds a PhD in astrophysics and was close friends with Moore, said in a statement. “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.”

Moore, who received his knighthood in 2001, won a British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) for services to television and was a member of the Royal Society. He was appointed honorary vice-president of the Society for the History of Astronomy in 2002.

He was able to explain black holes, which he considered one of his greatest triumphs.

Moore met and worked with many giants in his field, including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein and the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, according to an autobiographical essay on the BBC.

The New York Times reports that in his 1953 book, “A Guide to the Moon,” he expressed the hope that life would be found there. Sixteen years before Armstrong’s moon expedition, Moore predicted man would one day explore its surface. He hoped that the first successful trip would be made “not by Britain, by America or by Russia, but by representatives of a United Earth.”

Moore suffered from ill-health in recent years. He used a wheelchair and had become unable to look through a telescope. He died after failing to fight an infection, the BBC reports.

Moore was known for the bluntness of his remarks as well as wearing a monocle. He was born on March 4, 1923, in the village of Pinner in Middlesex, England. He never married and had no children.

Former BBC science correspondent and fellow astronomer David Whitehouse told Sky News that Moore had "loved astronomy more than he loved himself".

"He was not a professionally trained astronomer," Whitehouse said, "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."

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