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At my age I do what Mark Twain did. I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I'm not there I carry on as usual.
December 9, 2012 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Patrick Moore (1923-2012). Gamesmaster, Xylophone player, RAF navigator, Astronomer extraordinaire, Patrick Moore has died from old age. Aged 89 the longest running presenter of any TV show in existence (The Sky at Night) inspired millions, taught everyone to look up, and leaves behind an educational legacy that has touched millions.

Probably the most noted guest on The Sky at Night was with Brian May, who made multiple appearances. Here's one from 2007, but of course Moore brough in scientists to his studio to simply talk to them and engross the audience. "Astronomy's a fascinating subject," said Moore. "You look up... you can't help getting interested and it's there. We've tried to bring it to the people.. it's not me, it's the appeal of the subject"

Oh and he fought of the aliens in the UK spin-off of Independence Day.
posted by ewan (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Patrick Moore no longer plays the xylophone.

http://weebls-stuff.com/songs/patrick+moore/


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posted by RandomInconsistencies at 5:57 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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"He wrote dozens of books on astronomy and his research was used by the US and the Russians in their space programmes."

A true Legend.
posted by marienbad at 6:02 AM on December 9, 2012


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A fine man, but unless I'm missing something surely he died in 2012 not 2013?
posted by jontyjago at 6:06 AM on December 9, 2012


Yes I meant 2012 not 2013... Dammit...
posted by ewan at 6:09 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Urtylug at 6:10 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Morsey at 6:13 AM on December 9, 2012


I hope he's out exploring space.
posted by gronkpan at 6:15 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Fixed date and repeated link. ]
posted by taz at 6:17 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mad as he was, I think old Patrick deserved a better obit post than this...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:22 AM on December 9, 2012


He knew about astronomy, but his politics were batshitinsane.

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posted by scruss at 6:23 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 6:23 AM on December 9, 2012


Mad as he was, I think old Patrick deserved a better obit post than this...

Metafilter is moderated by women. That's why it's all going to shit.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:28 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


scruss is right..
posted by imperium at 6:28 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Mister Bijou at 6:31 AM on December 9, 2012


"Patrick is up in heaven now."
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:36 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by ElliotH at 6:41 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by pdxpogo at 6:42 AM on December 9, 2012


Mad as he was, I think old Patrick deserved a better obit post than this...

Yeah, did wonder if anyone would mention his politics, which were a strange hodge-podge of right wing, libertarian and humanistic positions.

Anyway; received my degree certificate from him at graduation in, heck, 1991. He bonecrushed my hand, barked "WELL DONE!", rammed the certificate into the non-crushed hand and moved on to the next graduate.

Which was cool, after spending childhood going through his books, Carl Sagan's, and everything else to do with Space exploration available at the public library. I used to sneak downstairs to watch The Sky at Night; though eccentric, he made sense of the stuff visible through the window at night. One of my two prized childhood possessions (the other was a shotgun; think "geek redneck farmboy") was a telescope through which detail, lots of detail, on the moon, and some on Mars, could be made out.

It's a pity that his timescale predictions of manned space exploration and settlement are already way optimistic and out of line with where we are at, but that says more about the retreat of political willpower than his science-based analysis).

Guessing a large part of why I still watch every space launch that's on TV or online, and yearn to see broadcast a human set foot on Mars one day, is because of Patrick Moore pointing at things up there and declaring, in that unsmiling but authoritative way, that 'This is interesting'. And he was right.
posted by Wordshore at 6:43 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


GAMESMASTER OFFLINE

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I met him once when I was a kid, when he was doing signings forcsomecAstronomy book or other. He seemed huge to me, and pretty old even then. I asked him about his (actually not too good) Science Fiction and he seemed pretty pleased by that.
posted by Artw at 6:43 AM on December 9, 2012


UK folk in here might enjoy watching Patrick Moore's "The Sky at Night" on iPlayer here.
posted by ElliotH at 6:44 AM on December 9, 2012


Years back I went to a talk he did at the Royal Festival Hall which was basically to promote one of the zillions of books he'd written. He started off by barking at the tech to lower the lights so we could see his slides properly, "Lower! No Lower! LOWER!" until we were all sat in pitch darkness.

Afterwards I went up to get a flyer signed (the actual books hadn't turned up) and asked him how he coped with the cold when star gazing. He snapped in that immortal voice of his: "It never gets very cold in Selsy!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:56 AM on December 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by longbaugh at 7:11 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by lalochezia at 7:15 AM on December 9, 2012


It's curious the way he started to sort of adopt an artificial persona at some stage. Instead of the normal, soberly dressed presenter he had been for the long first part of his career he started wearing the monocle and being self-consciously "eccentric". I wouldn't be altogether surprised if a post-mortem brain scan (if there were such a thing) identified a tiny clot in his brain somewhere that was subtly impacting expression of his personality.
posted by Segundus at 7:29 AM on December 9, 2012


In the 90s sent a researcher down to see him once for some documentary or other, and the poor guy came back absolutely shaken. He was apparently barking mad in person.
posted by unSane at 7:32 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by MuffinMan at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2012


> A fine man, but unless I'm missing something surely he died in 2012 not 2013?

A man ahead of his time to the end.
posted by ardgedee at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


So here's my Patrick Moore anecdote.

One of the many, many things he did other than astronomy was to write operettas. Back in the day, Cambridge University Astronomical Society staged one of them and, being an astrophysics PhD student who was into Gilbert and Sullivan, I went along and auditioned for it. If you can imagine what an operetta written by Patrick Moore would be like, you're probably thinking along the right lines. It was a jolly romp through the life of Galileo, complete with dancing Pope Urban VIII and the obligatory Uranus joke. I think the auditions hadn't been very well advertised, because not a lot of people went along. So, astonishingly, I got a part. And it turned out the main himself was going to narrate the show.

That was all very exciting, but what happened next was even better: having enjoyed the Cambridge performances, he invited us all down to to his house to perform for the locals and for various of his friends in the garden. This is a house with telescopes, a monocle rack, a xylophone, books everywhere (including perched precariously over the bath), an enclosed rose garden for his cat, and an astonishingly diverse and peculiar collection of alcoholic drinks. There were no streetlights in the neighborhood because that would have impeded the view from the telescopes. And to cap it all off, the gathering of his friends included Brian May. Which is how I got to sing (badly) in front of them both. It was extremely awesome.

There was some talk at the time that when he passed away, those close to him would gather in the house and have a wake at which they finished off all the alcohol. I imagine that's going to be something to behold...
posted by gnimmel at 8:01 AM on December 9, 2012 [20 favorites]


He knew about astronomy, but his politics were batshitinsane.

And not just that - I've always thought (though perhaps this just reflects my own biases) that there's something very specifically weird and contradictory about having the capacity for awe and wonder and for reflecting on the cosmos as a whole that I associate with people drawn strongly to astronomy -- while espousing such narrowminded nationalistic/anti-immigrant/etc politics based on such vigorous in-group/out-group delineations.

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posted by oliverburkeman at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2012




A real legend. Despite some cranky politics (mitigated somewhat by the wartime killing of his fiancee), he was probably single-handedly responsible for inspiring more people into science careers in the UK than anybody. Rather amazingly, he must have been one of the few people to meet both Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong. Also, duetted with Einstein!
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 8:19 AM on December 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by Xere at 8:40 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Bwithh at 8:45 AM on December 9, 2012


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posted by sexyrobot at 9:06 AM on December 9, 2012


Aww, gee.

We've been watching Doctor Who recently, and I was very happy to see that Doctor Moore had a cameo on the show (the Doctor breaks into a high-level video cast between famous people about some world-changing event, and one of them was Patrick Moore).

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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2012


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Never thought he could actually die, the first time I saw 'The Sky at Night' was before we even had a colour TV, and I kinda remember him being ancient even then.
posted by titus-g at 9:19 AM on December 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Another genuine eccentric gone...

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posted by 43rdAnd9th at 9:19 AM on December 9, 2012


I know he certainly inspired me in following science as a career. I guess there'll be two people I'll be winking at when I see the moon now.

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posted by arcticseal at 9:29 AM on December 9, 2012


No more Mr. Night Sky.

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posted by Nossidge at 9:35 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by runincircles at 9:41 AM on December 9, 2012


Guardian's obit is full of gold. Never knew he lied about his age to join the RAF and got someone to sub for him at the medical because of a heart condition!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:41 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always thought Jack Horkheimer was gay. (And so did a few people in his obituary thread.) I wonder if he wanted to have a show as counterpoint to Patrick Moore?

Regardless, sad to have lost two such inspirational popular astronomers in so short a time.

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posted by jiawen at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2012


I think the death of Patrick Moore is one of those complicated obit situations. I mean the man had a very public public life and a much more private private life. His public life is wholly admirable: he served his country and inspired literally generations of scientists and hobbyists. He was a beloved public institution.

On the other hand, if we judge a man by the company he keeps, being friends with Norris McWhirter is a blight on anyone's character. The man was so far beyond right he thought Thatcher was a raving liberal hippy. Moore supported McWhirter's party, an organisation with execrable racist politics. Later support for UKIP isn't much better.

. for the loss to science.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:16 AM on December 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


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I worked with him on a CD-ROM thing back in the 90s. The people on the project who went to his house to film him said he was barking mad, which makes me love him even more.
posted by w0mbat at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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When I was 15 the Atlas of the Universe was the best book I had. So many nights spent staring into the sky with binoculars.
posted by Enki at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2012




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posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:34 AM on December 9, 2012


I met him, and spent some time talking to him in his study while other guests made use of his telescope or took advantage of his hospitality otherwise. Our politics strongly disagreed to say the least, and I don't quite know how to properly express things, but we will all miss his educational talent - regardless of the prejudices he had we all benefited from his astronomical presenting, writing and education generally.
posted by edd at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Smart Dalek at 1:30 PM on December 9, 2012


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posted by Kevin Street at 2:27 PM on December 9, 2012


Damn, if the pace of those to whom I feel obliged to have a wee dram to mark their passing's departures continues at this rate my liver will attempt an escape. Not to mention that little bit of melancholy knowing another irreplaceable member of our species has gone.

Fantastic memories of him both in serious scientific settings and plenty of light-hearted fripperies such as his role as GamesMaster and his popping up unexpected in odd places, usually to play the xylophone.

Like others here mention, somebody that seemed immortal, someone who always has been and always would be. A mountain of intellect, in both senses.

"Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one." -- Brian May
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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 3:09 PM on December 9, 2012


not sure I know who this gentleman was but I respect him for dying of old age. I believe that is the object of this game.
posted by Colonel Panic at 4:50 PM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I always remember his guest appearances on The Goodies, including the one where he turned into a giant space bunny. What a good sport. Can't believe he was only 89 though, he seemed that old thirty years ago!
posted by andraste at 5:48 PM on December 9, 2012


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posted by motty at 6:37 PM on December 9, 2012


I bought his Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars many years ago and spend countless hours gazing at the many wonders that are viewable with a good pair of binocs. I always advise those wanting to get started in astronomy to get this book.
posted by neuron at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2012


... Patrick Moore has died from old age. Aged 89...

How old do you have to be to die of old age?
posted by neuron at 7:18 PM on December 9, 2012


... Patrick Moore has died from old age. Aged 89...

How old do you have to be to die of old age?


I don't know but what does the post mortem list as the telltale signs of such a death?

do all the vital organs just give in at once?

Do the eyelids suddenly close and you see the words Game Over?

Seems like you don't need some quincy digging around in your arteries looking for clogging if you get that old. You should get a pass on that. If im the medical examiner i just pull the sheet and say Well Done!
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:25 PM on December 9, 2012


His books were so REAL. Sorry, Carl Sagan, your grand cosmic vision is inspiring and all, but Moore made it hands on. He would describe home made apparatus, and show photos of his friends in their back gardens with their ancient and modest telescopes held together with string.

His books were full of the practical, the ordinary, the sort of thing I would need to know if I became an astronomer. He made the universe far more breathtaking than all those coffee table books of star nurseries. Because with Patrick Moore you connect directly to the universe. With Moore you don't gaze at unattainable pictures, you get out there and see the real thing.

Other books were space porn. Moore's books offered a real relationship.
posted by EnterTheStory at 11:29 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]




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posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:01 PM on December 12, 2012


From Popbitch:

Patrick Moore was a bit of a mischief maker in his day. He enjoyed placing postal stamps in odd places on envelopes meaning that his letters had to be sorted by hand. Eventually he received a letter from Royal Mail telling him that his identity had become known, and would he please in future stick to placing his stamps in the usual top right hand corner as he was causing considerable inconvenience.

He responded to the letter, placing the stamp in the very centre of the envelope. The note inside it read: "Hey diddle diddle, the stamp's in the middle."

cough_medicine writes: "Moore was quite robust in his views on whom to trust in modern life, suggesting that 'frogs, wops, eye-ties and wogs' should be avoided."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2012




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