Sir Patrick Moore

Presidential Portrait of Sir Patrick Moore from 1984

It is with the deepest sadness that I report the death just before 12.30 today of Sir Patrick Moore.

Patrick has long been an inspiration and guide for so many BAA members. He served as the Association’s President from 1982-1984, as well as directing with energy and distinction both the Mercury & Venus Section and the Lunar Section. Indeed, he performed the latter role on two occasions, from 1964-1968 and from 1971-1976. In recent years he has been an honorary Vice-President, and although he has been unable to attend our meetings, he has continued to take an active interest in the affairs of the Association that he first joined in December 1934 at the age of 11. He made a point of visiting the BAA stand at Astrofest 2012, despite not being in the best of health.

There can be few BAA members who do not owe their interest in astronomy to the influence of Patrick, either through his numerous publications or his monthly “Sky at Night” television programme. His enthusiasm was deeply infectious, and what he had to say was truly inspirational. Many of us benefited from personal contact with him – the time and energy he devoted to correspondence with all who wrote to him was quite amazing, and his hospitality at Farthings legendary.

Patrick’s passing was peaceful, at home in Selsey, where he was surrounded by those closest to him. Many of us felt that this day could never come, and that the normal laws of nature would somehow be suspended in this case. Sadly and inevitably, that was not be be, and we shall all miss a presence that has enriched British astronomy, and the lives of most of us, for as long as we can remember.

In due course we shall have occasion to pay full and proper tribute to the man and his achievements. The grief we feel at this moment is bitter, but Patrick’s legacy is immense – and that is something from which we shall all continue to benefit in the future.

Bill Leatherbarrow

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