11 December 2012

Patrick Moore, 1923–2012

Patrick Moore, one of my childhood heroes, died on Sunday. Like many others of the past couple of generations, I owe my lifelong interest in astronomy to him. I was given one of his books for my seventh birthday, and that effectively decided the initial trajectory of my school and university education (without that initial push regularly reinforced by episodes of The Sky at Night, I would almost certainly have studied geology rather than astronomy for my first degree and, while I might still have ended up doing theology, I certainly wouldn’t have found myself doing postdoctoral research on the parallels between theological and contemporary physical understandings of temporality).

Moore was also a keen musician, sufficiently accomplished on the xylophone to have been able to play a duet with Evelyn Glennie. I don’t know if he had any say in the choice of the theme music for The Sky at Night (I suspect he did, because he mentions in his autobiography the difficulty they had in finding a suitable signature tune), but if so I also have him to thank for my lifelong love of the music of Sibelius.

Like so many other people, I’ll miss him.

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