Tribute to Sir Patrick Moore by Professor Martin Barstow

Posted by pt91 at Dec 11, 2012 09:00 AM |

Growing up a the time of the Moon Landings, like many others I was inspired to become a scientist by Patrick through his coverage of Apollo and his appearances on Sky at Night. He already had a strong connection with the University when I joined the Physics and Astronomy Department and it was a thrill to meet him in person for the first time. His support for our work has been tremendous over the years and he became a patron of our efforts to create the National Space Centre here in the Leicester (the planetarium is now named after him). I was delighted when he was awarded the Distinguished Honorary Fellowship of the University in recognition of 50 years of Sky at Night together with his association with the University and was privileged to act as his host for the day. The weather was terrible, but Patrick insisted we walk to the De Montfort Hall. It was slow progress, as everyone we passed stopped to say hello and he took time for a personal word with all.

I always had an ambition to appear on Sky at Night as a young astronomer and, in recent years have had the good fortune to be involved in a number of programmes. Becoming part of Sky at Night is like joining an extended family, with Patrick being the glue that held it all together. He was one of nature's gentlemen with time for everyone. His hospitality was generous and trips to his home at Selsey became events for my whole family. When my daughter, Jo, was about to start a PhD working on Venus, Patrick remarked, "I wrote a book on that". Several days later a copy of the book appeared with a personal message inscribed on the title page. My musician son, Nick, was allowed to try out the famous xylophone and caused some consternation for the BBC film crew when Patrick insisted on delaying a recording while he "dug out" some music for him. We last saw Patrick in person at a wonderful evening in Selsey celebrating the 55 year anniversary of Sky at Night earlier this year. Many of the Sky at Night family were there and we closed the evening with a truly terrible, but enjoyable (to us at least), karaoke rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. I am not sure what Brian May (another great friend of Patrick's) would have thought of that.

I have many fond memories of Patrick that I will aways treasure. He was a great man and a great friend. I will miss him tremendously, but he will be missed by millions more.

Professor Martin Barstow, Head of the College of Science and Engineering

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