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.