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Sir Patrick Moore
Shortly after midday on 2012 December 9th Patrick Moore died at home at the age of 89. Patrick was an amateur astronomer and observer although he did, for nine years in the 1960s and ‘70s, hold a professional post: that of Director of Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.
Patrick was widely known as a public speaker, broadcaster, entertainer and writer, who took part in an amazing range of activities. He was passionate about music and cricket and was a good enough xylophone player to make recordings and give concerts. Although best known for his astronomy programme “The Sky at Night”, first broadcast on the BBC in April 1957 and the longest-running single presenter programme on television anywhere in the world, Patrick appeared on an amazing variety of TV shows including an appearance on the long-running BBC science fiction series Dr Who, quiz and game shows, comedy programmes, documentaries and even variety shows. He made astronomy fun and inspired at least two generations of astronomers.
Patrick was a famously fast speaker and, when he got excited, could reach enormous speeds. Although his normal delivery passed 180 words per minute, he was timed at up to 300 words per minute when really animated. This, his gestures and mannerisms and “Lieutenant Colombo” style of appearance made him one of the most imitated and instantly recognisable figures on television. For the 50th anniversary Sky at Night the BBC even got a well-known impersonator to play the part of a young Patrick Moore, so that Patrick could chat to his younger self about the show.
Millions who had no interest in astronomy were introduced to Patrick Moore’s enthusiasm and inimitable style of delivery with the BBC coverage of the Apollo Moon landings, during which he was often on air for seven, eight or more hours at a time and just as enthusiastic and lucid at the end of each broadcast as at the start. Over the years he became close friends with several of the Apollo astronauts and was one of the few broadcasters who Neil Armstrong was not just willing, but eager to speak to.
He was a passionate lunar and planetary observer and, in 1966, just missed discovering Saturn’s tenth moon, Janus. On hearing of the discovery he checked his own observations and discovered that he had observed the moon himself without recognising it. Typically he was not bitter about missing out on such an important discovery, thus losing the opportunity of being the first amateur astronomer in more than a century to discover a planetary satellite. Patrick led and participated in many eclipse expeditions, making the first ever live television broadcast of an eclipse – that of 1961 February 15 – and had an extraordinary fund of eclipse anecdotes. When eclipse travel became too arduous for him to continue, I had the immense privilege of recording the 2005 annular eclipse in Madrid with Chris Lintott for Patrick to broadcast on the October 2005 Sky at Night.
Recording Sky at Night, first in the BBC studios at White City and, later, at his home in Selsey was immense fun and always unpredictable. My personal favourite was the Star of Bethlehem programme with Patrick and David Hughes in December 2001. Viewers never knew that in the time allotted in the studio we failed miserably even to complete the rehearsal and that what was finally broadcast the following night was pieced together with incredible skill from the recording of that rehearsal. An abiding memory of that afternoon was the fact that it took 14 attempts to get through a news note that included the words “Russian rocket” (it was about a re-entry observed over the UK): the first time Patrick finally managed to spit the words out and turn to me with the first question I was laughing so hard still at the previous outtake that I was totally unable to articulate anything... Whoops! Another take… On another occasion, so natural was his style, that after twelve minutes of chatting away in his study, thinking that we were preparing the recording of a Sky at Night about comets, the Producer suddenly said “cut” and informed us that the recording was perfect! I do not know if Patrick was aware that we were recording during the conversation, but I most certainly was not!!
Patrick was warm, generous and immense fun to be with. He will be sadly missed.
This is a clip of Patrick at his best. It was broadcast in 1971 and, despite being just 11 years old, it is an episode that I recall very vividly still. Here, Patrick combines his passion for playing cricket with astronomy and uses cricket to illustrate parallax and how to measure the distance of the stars using it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bf0l7
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Sir Patrick Moore
después del mediodía del 09 de
diciembre 2012 Patrick
Moore murió en su casa
a la edad de 89 años.
Patrick fue un astrónomo
aficionado y observador
aunque él, durante nueve
años en la década de 1960
y 70, ocupó un cargo
profesional: el de Director del
Observatorio Armagh en Irlanda del
Patrick era ampliamente conocido como un orador público, locutor, actor y escritor, quien participó en una increíble variedad de actividades. Era un apasionado de la música y el cricket y fue un buen tocador de xilófono, suficiente para realizar grabaciones y dar conciertos. Aunque es más conocido por su programa de astronomía "The Sky at Night", la primera emisión en la BBC fue en abril de 1957 y el programa de mayor duración en la televisión con un solo presentador en cualquier parte del mundo, Patrick apareció en una sorprendente variedad de programas de televisión incluyendo una aparición en la serie de larga duración de la BBC, de ciencia ficción, Doctor Who, también aparecio en programas de juegos, shows televisivos, programas de comedia, documentales e incluso espectáculos de variedades. Ha inspirado por lo menos dos generaciones de astrónomos.
Millones de personas que no tenían ningún interés en la astronomía se introdujeron al entusiasmo Patrick Moore y el estilo inimitable de la entrega con la cobertura de la BBC de los aterrizajes del Apolo Luna, durante la cual fue muchas veces en el aire durante siete, ocho o más horas a la vez y tan entusiasta y lúcido al final de cada transmisión como en la salida. A través de los años se convirtió en una estrecha amistad con varios de los astronautas del Apolo, y fue uno de los pocos organismos de radiodifusión que Neil Armstrong tenia ganas de hablar.