Seven centuries of The Sky at Night
On 24 April 1957, the BBC broadcast the first edition of a monthly astronomy programme, The Sky at Night, presented by a young man named Patrick Moore. Exactly one week later, University College Leicester was granted a Royal Charter and became the University of Leicester.
Patrick Moore has continued to present the show every single month for the past 54 years, except on one occasion*. In 1996, the University of Leicester awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Science and in 2008 he received the University’s highest honour, a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship.
Sir Patrick is now 88. In fact, today (4 March 2011) is his 88th birthday and on Sunday The Sky at Night reaches its own milestone with programme number 700.
Nowadays, Sir Patrick shares presenting duties with a quartet of young men who all grew up in his thrall – and two of them have a Leicester connection. Paul Abel studied Maths at Leicester from 1999 to 2004 and now teaches in our Centre for Interdisciplinary Science. Pete Lawrence is also a Leicester graduate, with a degree in Astrophysics.
Our own Department of Physics and Astronomy is world-renowned for the quality of its research and teaching. Leicester academics and students have been involved with numerous missions for both NASA and ESA and last year the Department celebrated its 50th anniversary with a commemorative conference.
The University of Leicester sends our warmest congratulations to the whole Sky at Night team on this momentous occasion and especially to Sir Patrick on this double-celebratory weekend.
*Famously due to food poisoning from a goose egg.