Death of a supernova. Sir Patrick Moore dies

The one and only Sir Patrick Moore, astronomer, broadcaster, educator and eccentric extraordinaire has died today aged 89.

We will tragically never see anyone else like him. Having celebrated 55 years of The Sky at Night this year, Sir Patrick had inspired generation after generation of children and adults alike to embrace the wonders of cosmology and astronomy. The voice of the space age in Britain, his glorious barminess, his unique charisma and his passionate dedication charted every discovery in space since the 1960’s and was the man who brought news of the moon landings to the British public in his own inimitable style.

A statement issued by friends and colleagues said that he "passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon"

It went on to say "After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, 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 and carers and his cat Ptolemy. Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and 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."

Brian Cox posted on Twitter, "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. He helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him! Patrick certainly leaves a wonderful legacy though. The generations of astronomers and scientists he introduced to the night sky.”

We have lost an icon of British culture and a symbol of a rapidly disappearing age when learning was to be embraced, eccentricity to be celebrated and individuality could break through the sterility. Perhaps we should take this moment both to honour Sir Patrick Moore and all his achievements, but also think about why we are unlikely to see anyone else remotely like him on our screens today.

But as ashes fall to ashes and photons scream through galactic space, let us a raise a glass to Sir Patrick Moore as he disappears amongst the stars he so dearly loved.

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