Astronomer Patrick Moore passes away at 89

Sunday 09 December 2012 22.56
Brian May (l) descried Patrick Moore (r) as 'irreplaceable'
Brian May (l) descried Patrick Moore (r) as 'irreplaceable'

British astronomer Patrick Moore died today aged 89, a group of his friends and staff said.

The broadcaster "passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon", at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, they said in a statement.

It added: "After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him,"

It continued: "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, carers and his cat Ptolemy."

Mr Moore, 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.

He died after failing to fight an infection.

The statement went on: "Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness,

He 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."

Queen guitarist Brian May paid tribute to a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".

He said: "Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life.

"Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."

Speaking at a party to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the BBC programme, Mr Moore said he hoped the stargazing series would continue "indefinitely".

He said: "I'm absolutely staggered. I never thought when I began doing television shows that I'd be on for another year, let alone 55 years.

"I didn't know if I was going to be good enough or if the subject matter would hold up. I think I'm exactly the same now as I was when I started. I just haven't got the voice I once had."

The last programme was broadcast on Monday.

Mr Moore had 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.

Keywords: patrick moore
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