I’m sure all of you have heard the terribly sad news of the passing of Patrick Moore earlier this week. The legendary British TV presenter introduced astronomy to more people than anyone but perhaps Carl Sagan, and the astronomy world will not recover from this loss for a very long time.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Patrick a few times, and he was a wonderful, eccentric character with each and every encounter. The first time I met him was in the early or mid 1980s when I was a young journalist at Astronomy magazine, and Richard Berry and Robert Burnham went to Chicago with me to interview him. It was midmorning, and Patrick invited us up into his hotel room to conduct the interview. He insisted, however, before we start, that we drink a magnum of champagne. You can imagine the state we were in during that interview!
In any case, I ran across a wonderful blog about Patrick from friend and fellow astronomy enthusiast Simon Bennett, an officer of London’s Baker Street Irregular Astronomers. I felt it was appropriate to share Simon’s blog about the London club’s tribute this week to Patrick.
'Moon' for Sir Patrick Moore
“During the December 2012 meeting, the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers gathered at the Hub in Regents Park not only to celebrate the coming holiday, but more importantly to remember the man who has done more than any other to bring the stars to his fellow people — Sir Patrick Moore. Murky skies did nothing to dampen our spirits, as Jupiter refused to be obscured and stories of Patrick were passed around. Our greatest shared memory must be his own visit to enjoy the stars with us in March 2011, when the 701st episode (and Patrick's 700th!) was filmed on location at the Hub.
All of us in the field of astronomy — whether it be research, the industry, or as hobbyists — can relate to Patrick's relentless enthusiasm for the night sky, and I have personally never met an astronomer in this country or any other who could honestly say they weren't, at least in part, inspired by him. His ability to connect the public to the cosmos is unrivaled, and his passionate and selfless support for us at the BSIA helped astronomy flourish in the center of one of the world's largest cities, where light pollution is in no short supply. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as a society and as individuals.
On December 12th we gathered to dedicate our own red torch 'star cluster' to Patrick, and invited his fans and friends to leave him a message in the sort of place we'd expect him to find it — the Moon (well, sort of!)
Everyone is welcome to leave their message on this Moon map, so long as there's still space, at the Widescreen Centre, 47 Dorset Street (just off Baker Street) where it will be looked after for the BSIA. To everyone who attended the December meeting, on behalf of the BSIA I'd like to say thank you. Now let's keep doing what Patrick inspired us to do; spread the word and watch the skies! We'll be back at the Hub on January 8th to celebrate the BBC's Stargazing LIVE, and anyone still wishing to have a toast in Patrick's honor will be very, very welcome to join us!”
Thank you, Simon, for allowing us to share your message, and the graphics the club produced.
And thanks to Patrick for so many years of wonderful memories associated with the night sky. We will all miss you very much.