Another One Returns to the Stars
Sir Patrick Moore, well-known in Britain as an astronomer and broadcaster, died today at his home. (Here is the official BBC obituary.) He brought astronomy alive through his writing, radio, and television shows. I had several chances to meet Sir Patrick at various events throughout the years, and he always seemed to be a kind man, a bit eccentric, and with a phenomenal memory. After the first chance meeting with him, I didn’t see Sir Patrick for a few years, but acquired several of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them. The next time we met, he reminded me of where we’d met and what we had chatted about. He will be sorely missed, but I’m sure he’ll live on through his “Sky at Night” program, and through his many books.
I’m aware that Sir Patrick also had a bit of a controversial side, with many people citing his views on immigration and other political topics as grist for the mill. It’s unfortunate that such a brilliant communicator could also hold closed-minded opinions, but then again, people are complex. I don’t condone his views on women and immigrants, but I do salute his amazing accomplishments in communicating astronomy. Perhaps that will be his best and final legacy.
Sir Patrick’s passing also brings to mind another science popularizer, Dr. Carl Sagan. He died on December 20, 1996, far too soon. He was MY inspiration to take up astronomy and to communicate it to others, as was Sir Patrick Moore. There are many of us out there sharing the stars with others, and digging deeply into the secrets of the cosmos, all because of these two people.
If you have the chance, check out “Sky at Night” and “Cosmos”, two works by these phenomenally gifted astronomers.Let them continue to inspire you, even as their creators have moved on. If they succeed, it’s the best tribute to their unceasing work to share the cosmos.