10 Dec 2012

Death of astronomer Sir Patrick Moore

5:43 am on 10 December 2012

British astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore has died.

Friends say Moore, 89, "passed away peacefully" at his home in West Sussex in western England on Sunday.

He presented The Sky At Night programme on the BBC for over 50 years, making him the longest-running host of the same television show. He was also famous for his monocle.

The BBC reports Moore wrote dozens of books on astronomy and his research was used by the United States and the Soviet Union in their space programmes.

Sir Patrick presented the first edition of The Sky at Night on 24 April 1957. He last appeared in an episode broadcast on Monday.

He was born on 4 March 1923. Heart problems meant he spent much of his childhood being educated at home and he became an avid reader.

His mother gave him a copy of The Story of the Solar System by GF Chambers, which sparked his lifelong passion for astronomy.

In World War II, he turned down a place at Cambridge and lied about his age to join the RAF, serving as a navigator with Bomber Command and rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

But the war brought him a personal tragedy after his fiancee, Lorna, was killed when an ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb. He never married.

Sir Patrick had a pacemaker fitted in 2006 and received a knighthood in 2001. He won a BAFTA for services to television and was a honorary fellow of the Royal Society.