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Rest In Peace, Sir Patrick Moore

Having friends abroad means I get most of the updates on their lives initially via twitter. This is also how the sad news just reached me about the passing of Patrick Moore. Even though I knew he wasn’t well, I’m shocked, lost for words, but most of all even more sad then I imagined. Messages of people who’re thankful for meeting him once and of those who think he was such a legend, followed. I sent some thoughts into the virtual world too, but I felt I should write something properly. Although I’m not sure this will be a worthy tribute, I’d like to share a few memories.

I never grew up with the Sky at Night, I’ve gotten to know the presenter as ‘just’ Patrick. I had heard of him before we met though, as my newfound ‘astronomy friends’ had quickly educated me about what an institution Sir Patrick was. He was the one who inspired Brian May to become an astrophysicist and Brian, together with Chris Lintott, are responsible for passing this passion on to me. I became an amateur astronomer after I discovered this object in space through Galaxy Zoo – Chris’ project, pointed out to me by Brian. And I first met Patrick at his house in Selsey, in the summer of 2008, where he interviewed me for his famous TV programme.

It was at lunch time, when I arrived, and after we shook hands I noticed Patrick seemed annoyed. I sat down with him while a team was getting things ready for the show. Patrick told me he was frustrated about not being able to do everything himself anymore. His mind was still very independent and refused to accept that his body couldn’t always keep up. I smiled and said I understood. Meanwhile I thought I’d probably be such a pain to everyone around me if I were in his situation. I understood more than I could tell him and when everyone is now saying how much of an inspiration he was, this is what I think of actually. I bet he fought until the end.

Later that year, Chris organised a party at ‘Farthings’, Patrick’s house, because Patrick liked the company and because it would be fun to use the scope this time. I know lots has been said about Patrick’s place, which you could describe as a kind of a museum, but what I remember most was feeling at home instantly. It’s one of the most cosiest places I know. Patrick did like a good party and when I left he asked me to come back again soon – we should do this for a New Year’s Eve, he said. Funnily enough, I was just thinking about this today, right before I heard the news! Maybe it’s because it’s that time of year, or because both his 90th birthday and Astrofest are coming up.

We met a couple of times at Astrofest too and his ‘unstoppable-ness’ made me admire him like the rest of England had already done for years and years. I’m not one who takes things for granted, but somehow it felt as if Patrick would live forever. Yes, he is an inspiration to many generations and it seems astronomy itself has lost its father. And yes, his passion and his legacy will live on through many of us. Although I’m hardly religious, I find the thought of a special star up there comforting. So many of us have great memories because of him and my heart goes out to everyone who’s touched by the loss of this great man.

And I’ll just be forever thankful for all the moments we had, for he taught me even more than I realised.


  1. John Fairweather | Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Nice words Hanny.

  2. Graham | Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    A touching piece about a truly great and kind person. Nice to have such memories of an inspiring and special man.

  3. Phil Plait | Posted December 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    That’s a lovely article, Hanny. I linked to it from my own.

  4. Curtis W. Garrett | Posted December 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Well put, Hanny!

  5. Hanny | Posted December 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments, I appreciate them. Phil, thanks! The link with your name here went to an unfound page, but I found your article and updated it. I like yours too, and I agree with you. Patrick has never said any of the ‘controversial stuff’ to me, but if he had, we’d probably have agreed to disagree and get on.

  6. Geoffrey Heaford | Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I met him a few times and was always struck by his friendliness. But I mostly remember when I worked for a company that produced house magazines in the early 1970s. We obtained a contract with a waste disposal firm and one of the first articles proposed was “Waste in Space” about the amount of junk floating around. I phoned him and he agreed to do the piece. I said we needed around 750 words in three months. On the precise date the MS turned up to the correct length. When I phoned him to ask him how much he would charge he poo-pooed any idea of payment. We sent him £25 I think.

  7. John Evans | Posted December 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Very sad day to here Patrick has past away. Fond memories of meeting him in 1964 at a meeting of the Society Of Authors my Mom was attending

  8. Steve Gordon | Posted December 9, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Was my inspiration to take up astronomy as a hobby.Will be greatly missed.

  9. Nick Howes | Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful words and echo what Phil said. Pat had his views, and we didn’t agree with them, but he was a great astronomer and phenomenal outreach ambassador before that term ever existed. Knew him for 22 years on and off, and a great loss to us all. Thank you for posting such a wonderful tribute

  10. Philip Corneille | Posted December 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Sir Patrick Moore R.I.P. among the stars…

  11. Philip Corneille | Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Superb photo, certainly brings back some AstroFest memories. Thanks for sharing…

  12. Hanny | Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Philip. Nice to see this back again indeed…

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Sir Patrick Moore, 1923 – 2012 | Alkaon Network on December 13, 2012 at 9:34 am

    […] van Arkel, who was on Moore's program after having discovered a new type of astronomical object, wrote a lovely article about him.] Article source: […]

  2. […] already a week ago since Patrick (Moore) left us and I think it was nice to see so many friends sharing their good memories of him […]


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