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12/09/2012 03:12:00 pm - Reported by Chuck Foster

Sir Patrick MooreThe presenter, writer, and astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has died, aged 89.

Born in Middlesex but brought up in Sussex, Moore became fascinated by astronomy at an early age. He joined the British Astronomical Association aged 11, and by the age of 14 he was running a small observatory in East Grinstead. During the Second World War he served as a navigator in the RAF, achieving the rank of flight lieutenant, and during his training in Canada he met both Albert Einstein and Orville Wright.

Returning to his love of astronomy after the war, Moore published his first book Guide to the Moon in 1953, followed by Guide to the Planets and a fictional book, The Master of the Moon. Eventually, over sixty books were to follow in both genres.

On 26th April 1957, the UK was introduced to the very first edition of The Sky at Night, a show Moore would continue to present up until his death - having only missed one show in July 2004 due to illness, he appears in the Guinness World Records as the world's longest-serving television presenter. Highlights of the show include many of the manned missions into space and reaching the Moon. Also, on 1st April 2007 a spoof 50th anniversary version was broadcast, featuring Moore presenting as a Time Lord with impersonator Jon Culshaw and guitarist/astrophysicist Brian May.

As well as The Sky at Night, Moore was a regular on news and other magazine programmes throughout the decades, seldom to be seen without the trademark monocle he'd worn since he was 16. As a presenter, he could be seen during the 1990s on the computer/video games programme GamesMaster. He was also not afraid to poke fun at himself, with light-hearted appearances in shows such as The Morecambe and Wise Show, The Goodies, and Have I Got News For You.

Sir Patrick MooreOn 3rd April 2010, he appeared in Matt Smith's first full episode, The Eleventh Hour, playing himself as one of the experts contacted by the Doctor to help design a computer virus to alert the Atraxi to the whereabouts of Prisoner Zero.

As well as being one of the world's most famous astronomers, Moore was also a keen musician, regularly to be seen playing the xylophone, including appearances at the Royal Command Performance and The Royal Variety Performance. However, he had to give up performances in his later years as he suffered from arthritis, which had plagued him throughout his life. He was also a keen sportsman, playing cricket, golf, and chess.

Moore never married. His nurse fiancee was killed by a bomb that hit her ambulance in the Second World War, and he subsequently stated that "there was no-one else for me."

He received many honours thoughout his life, including - in 2001 - his knighthood for services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting. The following year, Buzz Aldrin presented him with a BAFTA for services to television.

 
A statement from his family today 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 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.

Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore (4 Mar 1923 - 9 Dec 2012)

News Links: BBC News; Guardian