Tributes have been paid to astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who died yesterday (December 9) aged 89 after battling an infection.
The broadcaster passed away “peacefully” at 12.25pm at his home in Selsey, near Chichester.
Sir Patrick, who celebrated the 55th anniversary of his programme, The Sky At Night, in April, had battled ill health in recent years.
The stargazer had become wheelchair-bound and unable to look through a telescope.
A statement from his family and friends said: “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.
“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.”
The last programme was broadcast on Monday, December 3. Sir Patrick has only missed one episode since it began in 1957, when he was struck down by food poisoning.
His trademark monocle, unique delivery and occasional performances on the xylophone made him a familiar target for satirists and impressionists, but his scientific credentials were never in doubt.
Robin Durant, honorary chairman of the Adur Astronomical Society of which Sir Patrick was honorary chairman, said the legendary stargazer was “irreplacable”.
He said: “He was absolutely fantastic. It didn’t matter who he was talking to, he was always warm, funny and engaging.
“He was a complete inspiration to me and a whole generation of astronomers. His genius was that he could explain quite technical subjects in a way that made them interesting to the public.”
Sir Patrick, who had a pacemaker fitted in 2006, received his knighthood in 2001, won a Bafta for services to television and was a member of the Royal Society.
Star’s love for killed fiancée
The stars were not the only love of Sir Patrick Moore’s life.
The astronomer wrote a book all about his fondness for his feline friends, called Miaw, Cats Really Are Nicer Than People.
Sir Patrick’s cats became his closest companions in lieu of family after the death of his sweetheart.
He spent most of his life heartbroken after the death of his fiancée Lorna who was killed by a German bomb that fell on an ambulance she was travelling in.
He vowed never to marry and said “I can’t wait until the day we are reunited in the afterlife.”
Sir Patrick also said he did not want a conventional funeral and wanted his body to be donated to science after his death.
Speaking to The Argus in January, he said: “I’ve got it all mapped out. I don’t want a funeral. So they can take all my good bits and use them for medical science.”
When asked about the less good bits, he replied: “They can chuck it all away. I couldn’t care less.”
He added that he wanted to leave his money so people could have a big party in his memory.
An interview to remember
Argus features writer Nionne Meakin interviewed Sir Patrick at his rambling home in Selsey earlier this year. Here she shares her memories of the great man.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet and interview Sir Patrick Moore.
Over an orange squash – I'd arrived an hour too early for his daily gin and tonic – Sir Patrick regaled me with tales of his beloved mother Gertrude, meeting Neil Armstrong and his ongoing curiosity about the mysteries of the universe.
Though regrettably frail, he was charming, kind and as eccentric as ever in a lurid Hawaiian shirt.
It was an honour to meet this great and fondly regarded “amateur astronomer” - he will be much missed.
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