Stargazer and iconic broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore has died aged 89 at home. Tributes from friends, fans and fellow astronomers have poured in.
Sir Patrick died at his home today. He “passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon”, at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, family and friends said in a statement.
“After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy.”
Sir Patrick had been battling ill health in recent years and had become wheelchair bound, and unable to use his beloved telescopes.
He today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy – family statement
The statement went on: “Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and continued to work and write at a great rate, but this time his body was too weak to overcome the infection which set in, a few weeks ago.
“He was able to perform on his world record-holding TV programme The Sky at Night right up until the most recent episode.
“His executors and close friends plan to fulfil his wishes for a quiet ceremony of interment, but a farewell event is planned for what would have been Patrick’s 90th birthday in March 2013.”
In April he celebrated the 55th anniversary of his programme, The Sky At Night. During the party Sir Patrick said he hoped the astronomy series would continue “indefinitely”.
He said: “I’m absolutely staggered. I never thought when I began doing television shows that I’d be on for another year, let alone 55 years.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be good enough or if the subject matter would hold up. I think I’m exactly the same now as I was when I started. I just haven’t got the voice I once had.”
The last programme was broadcast on Monday. Sir Patrick has missed only one episode since it began in 1957 when he was struck down by food poisoning.
His trademark monocle, unique delivery and occasional performances on the xylophone made him a familiar target for satirists and impressionists, but his scientific credentials were never in doubt.
The show’s guests have included many prominent scientists as well as Goon Show star Michael Bentine and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Sir Patrick was fond of recounting how he famously once accidentally swallowed a fly live on air, as it flew into his mouth while he was talking.
Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) December 9, 2012
RIP Patrick Moore – you taught me to look up x
— Sue Perkins (@sueperkins) December 9, 2012
Queen guitarist Brian May paid tribute to a “dear friend and a kind of father figure to me”.
He said: “Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life.
“Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one.”
Brian Moore and other friends have worked together to create a tribute site for Sir Patrick Moore in which they say Patrick’s wish, as a great animal lover, for any donations to be made to Cats Protection on his behalf.