Spirit of England - Sir Patrick Moore

Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS
(4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012)
was an English amateur astronomer who attained prominent status in astronomy as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter.
Moore was a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the 'Society for Popular Astronomy' (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world's longest-running television series with the same original presenter, 'The Sky at Night' on the BBC.
As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the 'Caldwell Catalogue'.
Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television.
Moore was also a self-taught xylophone and piano player, as well as an accomplished composer and a former amateur cricketer, golfer and chess player.
He was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party before becoming a patron of the UK Independence Party.
He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II; his fiancée was killed during the war, and he never married or had children.

Early Life

Patrick Moore as a Child
Moore was born in Pinner in Middlesex on 4 March 1923 to Captain Charles Trachsel Caldwell-Moore MC (died 1947) and Gertrude, née White (died 1981), and moved to Bognor Regis, and later East Grinstead (both in Sussex), where he spent his childhood.
His youth was marked by heart problems, which left him in poor health, and as a result he was educated at home by private tutors.
He developed an interest in astronomy at the age of six and joined the British Astronomical Association at the age of eleven.
He was invited to run a small observatory in East Grinstead at the age of fourteen, after his mentor – the man who ran the observatory – was killed in a road accident.
At the age of sixteen he began wearing a monocle – an unusual step for a young man even in 1939 – after an oculist told him his right eye was weaker than his left eye.
Three years later, he began wearing a full set of dentures.
Flight Lieutenant Patrick Moore - RAF
Moore lied about his age in order to join the RAF and fight in World War II at the age of sixteen, 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.
The war had a significant influence on his life: his only romance ended when his fiancée, a nurse called Lorna, was killed by a bomb which struck her ambulance.
Moore subsequently remarked that he never married because "there was no one else for me...second best is no good for me...I would have liked a wife and family, but it was not to be."
In his autobiography he stated that after sixty years he still thought about her, and that because of her death "if I saw the entire German nation sinking into the sea, I could be relied upon to help push it down."
Moore stated that he was "exceptionally close" to his mother Gertrude, a talented artist who lived with him at his Selsey home, which is still adorned with her paintings of "bogeys" – little friendly aliens – which she regularly produced, and which were sent out annually as Moore's Christmas cards.
Moore wrote the foreword for Gertrude's 1974 book 'Mrs Moore In Space'.

Career in Astronomy

After the war, Moore rejected a government grant to study at Cambridge University, citing a wish to "stand on my own two feet".

A Guide to the Moon
He wrote his first book in 1952, 'A Guide to the Moon', which was published a year later.
He wrote it on a 1908 Woodstock typewriter, which he continued to use in writing every book of his career.
He also began teaching, first in Woking and then at Holmewood House School in Langton Green, where he taught from 1945–53.
Gérard de Vaucouleurs
His second book was a translation of a work of French astronomer Gérard de Vaucouleurs (Moore spoke fluent French).
After writing his second original science book, 'Guide to the Planets', he penned his first work of fiction, entitled 'The Master of the Moon'.
This was the first of numerous young-adult fiction books based on space adventures (including the late 1970s series the 'Scott Saunders Space Adventure'); he did write a more adult novel as well as a farce novel titled 'Ancient Lights', though he did not wish to find a publisher for either work.
During his time as a teacher at Holmewood he set up at his home a 12½ inch Newtonian reflector telescope, which he kept with him into his old age.
He developed a particular interest in the Moon, particularly the far side, a small part of which is visible from Earth as a result of the Moon's 'libration'; the Moon has remained his specialist subject all through his life.

Mare Orientale'
He named the 'Mare Orientale' (Eastern Sea) in 1946, along with H P Wilkins, though German astronomer Julius Heinrich Franz has also been credited with the discovery.
Moore was also credited with the discovery of the transient lunar phenomenon, describing the short-lived glowing areas on the lunar surface in 1968.
Lord Dowding
He made his first television appearance in a debate over the existence of flying saucers following a spate of sightings in the 1950s; Moore argued against Lord Dowding and a few other UFO proponents.
Following this, he was invited to present a live astronomy programme; he later noted that the greatest difficulty was in settling on an appropriate theme tune, Jean Sibelius' 'Pelléas et Mélisande' was eventually chosen, and remained a key part of the show throughout its existence.
The name of the show was originally planned to be 'Star Map', before The 'Sky at Night' was thought of as a better enticement in the 'Radio Times'.
On 26 April 1957, at 10:30 pm, Moore presented the first episode of 'The Sky at Night', which was about the Comet Arend–Roland.
The show was pitched to casual viewers up to professional astronomers, in a format which has remained consistent since its inception.
Chris Lintott
Moore presented every episode each month, except July 2004, when he was replaced by Chris Lintott because Moore suffered a near-fatal bout of food poisoning caused by eating a contaminated goose egg.
Moore appears in the 'Guinness World Records' book as the world's longest-serving TV presenter, by virtue of having presented the show since 1957.
From 2004-2012, the programme was presented from Moore's home, as he was no longer able to travel to the studios, owing to arthritis.
Over the years he received many more financially lucrative offers to take his programme onto other networks, but rejected them because he held a 'gentlemen's agreement' with the BBC.
One of the highlights of the series came in 1959, when as a reward for his assistance in mapping the Lunar surface the Russians allowed Moore to be the first Westerner to see the photographic results of the Luna 3 probe, and to show them live on air.
Lunar 4 Probe
Less successful was the transmission of the Luna 4 probe, which ran into technical difficulties – it was also around this time that Moore famously swallowed a large fly that flew into his mouth; both episodes were live and so Moore had to continue on regardless.

Yuri Gagarin
He was later invited to visit the Soviet Union, where he met Yuri Gagarin, the first man to journey into outer space.
For the fiftieth episode of 'The Sky at Night', broadcast September 1961, Moore became the first person ever to show a live broadcast of a direct telescope view of a planet; the result was another unintended 'comedy episode', as cloud obscured all view of outer space.
Armagh Planetarium
In 1965, he was appointed Director of the newly constructed Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland, a post he held until 1968.
His stay outside England would be short partly because of the beginning of the The Troubles, a dispute Moore wanted no part of.
He was appointed Armagh County secretary for the Scout movement, but resigned after he was told not to allow Catholics.
In developing the Planetarium, Moore travelled to Japan to secure a 'Goto Mars' projector.
He also helped with the redevelopment of the Birr Telescope south of the border.
Later on he was also a key figure in the development of the 'Herschel Museum of Astronomy' in Bath.
In June 1968 he returned to England, settling in his current home in Selsey after resigning his post in Armagh.

Apollo Moon Landing
During the Apollo programme, Moore was a presenter of the Apollo 8 mission, stating that "this is one of the great moments of human history", only to have his broadcast interrupted by a showing of Jackanory.
He was also a presenter of the Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 missions, and was co-presenter along with James Burke, of the BBC's television's coverage of the Moon landing missions.
Moore does not remember his words at "The Eagle Has Landed" moment, and the BBC lost all the tapes of the broadcast.
He continued to present Apollo missions 12 through 17.
He was elected as a member of the International Astronomical Union in 1966; having twice edited the Union's General Assembly newsletters he remains the only amateur astronomer to be a member of the IAU.
He attempted to establish an International Union of Amateur Astronomers, though this venture failed due to lack of interest.
During the 1970s and 80s, he reported on the Voyager and Pioneer programmes, often from NASA headquarters.
During this time he became increasingly annoyed by conspiracy theorists asking ludicrous questions, as well as by reporters who often asked him questions such as "Why waste money on space research when there is so much to be done here ?"; he later said then when asked these type of questions "I know that I'm dealing with an idiot."
Another question that annoys him is "what is the difference between astronomy and astrology ?"
Despite this he always made a point of responding to all letters delivered to his house, and he sent a variety of standard replies to all letters asking basic questions, as well as those from conspiracy theorists, proponents of hunting and 'cranks'.
Despite his fame, as of 2003 his phone number was listed in the telephone directory and he was happy to show members of the public round his observatory.
He compiled the Caldwell catalogue of astronomical objects and in 1982, asteroid '2602 Moore' was named in his honour.

Royal Greenwich Observatory
Halley's Comet
In February 1986 he presented a special episode of 'The Sky at Night' on the approach of Halley's Comet, though he later stated that the BBC's better-funded Horizon team "made a complete hash of the programme."
In January 1998, a tornado destroyed part of Moore's garden observatory; it was subsequently rebuilt.
Moore campaigned unsuccessfully against the closure of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1998.
One of Moore's favourite type of 'The Sky at Night' episodes have been those that focus on an eclipse, and he has stated that "there is nothing in nature to match the glory of a total eclipse of the Sun."

Total Eclipse of the Sun
Moore was the BBC's presenter for the total eclipse in England in 1999 (the next such event will occur in 2090), though the view he and his team had from Cornwall was completely obscured by cloud.
Moore was the patron for the South Downs Planetarium & Science Centre, which was opened in 2001.
On 1 April 2007, a 50th anniversary semi-spoof edition of the programme was broadcast on BBC One, with Moore depicted as a 'Time Lord' and featuring, as special guests, amateur astronomers Jon Culshaw (impersonating Moore presenting the very first The Sky at Night) and Brian May.
On 6 May 2007, a special edition of 'The Sky at Night' was broadcast on BBC One, to commemorate the programme's 50th anniversary, with a party in Moore's garden at Selsey, attended by amateur and professional astronomers.
Moore celebrated the record-breaking 700th episode of 'The Sky at Night' at his home in Sussex on 6 March 2011.
He presented with the help of special guests Professor Brian Cox, Jon Culshaw and Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal.
It was reported in January 2012 that because of arthritis and the effects of an old spinal injury he was no longer able to operate a telescope.
However, he was still able to present The Sky at Night from his home.

Activism and Political Beliefs

Patrick Moore
Moore was noted for his conservative political views.
In the 1970s, he was Chairman of the anti-immigration United Country Party, a position he held until the party was absorbed by the New Britain Party in 1980.
He campaigned for Edmund Iremonger in 1979, as both men agreed that the French and Germans were not to be trusted.
Iremonger and Moore gave up political campaigning after deciding that they were Thatcherites.
Moore later campaigned on behalf of Douglas Denny (UKIP) for the Chichester constituency in 2001.[59] A Tory voter for many years, he remained a supporter and patron of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party until his death.
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."
He also stated his admiration for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, and wrote in his autobiography that Liechtenstein - a constitutional monarchy headed by a prince - had the best political system in the world.
Moore was a critic of George W. Bush's Iraq War, and has stated that "the world was a safer place when Ronald Reagan was in the White House".
He was a Patron, too, of the British Weights and Measures Association.
Proudly declaring himself to be English (rather than British) with "not the slightest wish to integrate with anybody", he stated his admiration for controversial former MP politician Enoch Powell.
Moore devoted an entire chapter ("The Weak Arm of the Law") of his autobiography to denouncing modern British society, particularly "motorist-hunting" policemen, sentencing policy, as well as the Race Relations Act, Sex Discrimination Act and the "Thought Police / Politically Correct Brigade".
In an interview with Radio Times, he provocatively asserted that the BBC was being "ruined by women", commenting that: "The trouble is that the BBC now is run by women and it shows: soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days."
In response, a BBC spokeswoman described Moore as being one of TV's best-loved figures and remarked that his "forthright" views were "what we all love about him".
In his June 2002 appearance on Room 101 he banished female news readers into Room 101.
"I may be accused of being a dinosaur, but I would remind you that dinosaurs ruled the Earth for a very long time."
—Moore responds to those who criticise his Euro-sceptic and right-wing beliefs.
He was an opponent of fox hunting and blood sports.
Though not a vegetarian, he stated that he held "a deep contempt for people who go out to kill merely to amuse themselves."
He was a lifelong animal lover, actively supporting many animal welfare charities (particularly Cats Protection).
He had a particular affinity for cats and stated that "a catless house is a soulless house".

Other Interests and Popular Culture

Patrick Moore
Because of his long-running television career and eccentric demeanour, Moore was widely recognised and has become a popular public figure.
In 1976, this was used to good effect for an April Fool's spoof on BBC Radio 2, when Moore announced that at 9.47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur that meant that if listeners could jump at the exact moment of an imminent celestial event they would experience a temporary floating sensation.
The BBC received many telephone calls from listeners alleging that they actually experienced the sensation.
He also was a key figure in the establishment of the International Birdman event in Bognor Regis, which was initially held in Selsey.
Aside from presenting 'The Sky at Night', Moore has appeared in a number of other television and radio shows, including 'Just a Minute' and, from 1992 until 1998, playing the role of 'GamesMaster' in the television show of the same name: a character who professed to know everything there is to know about video gaming.
He would issue video game challenges and answer questions on cheats and tips presented in the 'Consolatation Zone.
Moore also was a keen amateur actor, appearing regularly in local plays.
He also appeared in self-parodying roles, in several episodes of 'The Goodies' and on the 'Morecambe and Wise' show, and also broadcast with Kenneth Horne only a few days before Horne's death.
He had a minor role in the fourth radio series of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', and a lead role in the Radio 1 sci-fi BBC/20th Century Fox radio play, 'Independence Day UK' in which amongst other things, Moore fills in as a Navigator.
He also appeared in It's a 'Celebrity Knockout', 'Blankety Blank' and 'Face the Music'.
He has appeared on television at least once in a film prop space suit.
He has also appeared as himself in the Doctor Who story 'The Eleventh Hour'.
A keen amateur chess player, Moore often carried a pocket set around with him and has been honoured with the title of Vice President of 'Sussex Junior Chess Association'.
In 2003, he presented Sussex Junior David Howell with the best young chess player award on Carlton Television's 'Britain's Brilliant Prodigies' show.
Moore himself had represented Sussex in his youth.
Moore was also an enthusiastic amateur cricketer, playing for the 'Selsey Cricket Club' well into his seventies.
He also played for the 'Lord's Taverners', a cricketing charity team, as a bowler with an unorthodox action. Though an accomplished leg spin bowler, he was a number 11 batsman and a poor fielder.
The jacket notes to his 1960s book "Suns, Myths and Men" state that his hobbies include "chess, which he plays with a peculiar leg-spin, and cricket."
He also played golf, and won a Pro-Am competition in Southampton in 1975.
Until being forced to give up owing to arthritis, Moore was a keen musician and accomplished xylophone player, having first played the instrument at the age of thirteen.
He has composed a substantial corpus of works, including two operettas.
Moore has also had a ballet entitled 'Lyra's Dream' written to his music.
He once performed at a Royal Command Performance, and has also performed a duet with Evelyn Glennie.
In 1998, as a guest on 'Have I Got News For You', he accompanied the show's closing theme tune on the xylophone and, as a pianist, he once accompanied Albert Einstein playing 'The Swan' by Camille Saint-Saëns on the violin (of which no recording was made).
In 1981 he performed a solo xylophone rendition of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." in a Royal Variety Performance.
On 7 March 2006 he was hospitalised and fitted with a pacemaker because of a cardiac abnormality.
Before such health problems he was an extensive traveller, and has set foot on all seven continents, (including Antarctica); he has stated that his favourite two countries were Iceland and Norway.

The Complete History of the Universe'
He was a friend of Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, who is an occasional guest on 'The Sky' at Night.
The pair co-wrote a book with Chris Lintott, entitled 'Bang! The Complete History of the Universe'.
In February 2011, Moore completed (with Robin Rees and Iain Nicolson) his comprehensive 'Patrick Moore's Data Book of Astronomy' for Cambridge University Press.
In addition he wrote 'Bureaucrats: How to Annoy Them' under the pseudonym R. T. Fishall, which was published by Sidgwick & Jackson in 1981.
In 1986 he was identified as the co-author of a book published in 1954 called 'Flying Saucer from Mars', attributed to Cedric Allingham, which was intended as a practical joke on UFO believers; Moore never admitted his involvement.
He once joined the 'Flat Earth Society' as an ironic joke.


Moore died at his West Sussex home on 9 December 2012.
Friends and members of Moore's staff released a statement; "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 today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy. Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and continued to work and write at a great rate, but this time his body was too weak to overcome the infection which set in, a few weeks ago. He was able to perform on his world record-holding TV Programme The Sky at Night right up until the most recent episode. His executors and close friends plan to fulfil his wishes for a quiet ceremony of interment, but a farewell event is planned for what would have been Patrick's 90th birthday in March 2013."
Brian Cox posted on Twitter, "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. He helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him! Patrick certainly leaves a wonderful legacy though. The generations of astronomers and scientists he introduced to the night sky."
Queen guitarist Brian May, who published a book on astronomy written with Moore, described him as a "dear friend, and a kind of father figure to me". He said: "Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life. Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."

Unlike the recent Olympic Games, Patrick Moore has truly inspired a generation,
in fact he has inspired many, many generations !

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