Tribute to Sir Patrick Moore by Dr Paul Abel

Posted by pt91 at Dec 11, 2012 10:10 AM |

I first started speaking to Patrick regularly when I was 12. Like countless other people, I have many of his letters which he bashed out on his ancient Woodstock typewriter. His letters were just like a conversation, a passionate mix of the latest planetary news together with some recent disaster like the dropping of expensive eyepieces on the floor, or some the pruning of some tree which he had lopped at three in the morning as it outrageously blocked his view of Saturn.

When I started my PhD at Leicester, I started to visit Patrick frequently, and he asked me to join the Sky at Night as a co-presenter. I was a deeply honoured to join the man on the program which got me started in astronomy, and meet the many distinguished guests of the programme - a number of them from the University of Leicester.

Patrick had a unique ability: he could take very complicated astronomical facts and translate them into ordinary down to earth (and usually highly amusing) analogies. My favorite is his description of our Milky Way galaxy being “rather like two fried eggs clapped back to back”. This ability combined with his wonderful persona, his infectious passion and enormous sense of fun made him for me, the godfather of modern astronomy. I cannot even begin to calculate just how many people, both professional and amateur, have got started in astronomy because of this man. Whether they had a passing interest, or were avid explorers of the night sky, he didn't care and treated their observations and ideas just as seriously as he would the many eminent guests on The Sky at Night.

Above all else, Patrick was extremely generous. I have him to thank for getting me into astronomy, and starting me off in my career of science broadcasting. I feel truly blessed that I can count him as a dear friend, and the fun and larks we had recording The Sky at Night will stay with me forever. He will be sorely missed.


Dr Paul G Abel, Centre for Interdisciplinary Science

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