Moore, Patrick 1923 - 2012

English; British

(1923-2012), amateur astronomer, writer, broadcaster

Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born at Pinner, Middlesex on 4 Mar 1923. When war came, 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. War brought personal tragedy as his fiancee, Lorna, was killed when an ambulance she was driving was hit by a bomb. He never married. After the war he momentarily taught at a prep school, but he pursued his interest in astronomy by building his own telescope in the garden of his Sussex home.

He produced detailed maps of the moon's surface which were used by Nasa as part of the preparations for the moon landing. A growing interest in extra-terrestrial matters persuaded the BBC to launch a new programme explaining the mysteries of space; Moore was chosen to present it. The first edition of The Sky at Night was broadcast on 24th April 1957; Moore presented the programme for more than four decades.

In 1965, for three years, he became the director of a new planetarium at Armagh, Northern Ireland. In 1969 he was part of the BBC commentary team to describe the moon landings. Despite his expertise on the solar system, Moore described himself as an amateur astronomer as he never had any formal training.

Moore was awarded an OBE in 1968 and was knighted and appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. In 2009, after saving Airdrie Public Observatory from closure in 2002, Moore accepted the position of Honorary President of Airdrie Astronomical Association, a position which he held until his death. He wrote more than 70 books during his lifetime, most of the manuscripts banged out on a 1908 manual typewriter.

Moore died at his home in Selsey, West Sussex on the 9th December 2012, aged 89.