Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sir Patrick Moore

As a teenager I remember hearing Sir Patrick Moore delivering a talk one evening at Queen’s University. My memory is that he was speaking about mapping the moon, illustrated with slides of his own photographs of craters and the moon’s landscape.

My strongerer memory is that there was a loud bang in the middle of the lecture, which turned out to be the sound of an explosion at the side of the City Hall. Sad how so many events in Northern Ireland can be associated with a terrorist attack that took place about the same time.

Proudly eccentric, yet clearly expert in his field, Sir Patrick Moore communicated his love for space and science with passion and enthusiasm. He could convey complicated facts to amateur viewers and listeners in a way that was both engaging and accurate without watering the truth down to bland watered-down science. A character big enough that The Sky At Night has survived years of cuts at the BBC and remaining on air. And let's not forget his role in the show Gamesmaster!

What I hadn’t realised until today was that he had been director of the new Armagh Planetarium between 1965 to 1968 before Terrance Murtagh’s reign in the 1970s.

A fine example of an astronomer, a scientist, a broadcaster, a communicator … and a xylophone player.

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