Sir Patrick Moore, who died died 9th December 2012 aged 89, did more than anyone to educate the British public about astronomy and space travel. Most of us are familiar with his monthly Sky at Night programme on BBC Television which attracted millions of viewers and made him the world’s longest-running presenter of a single television show.Originally I thought about electing Brian May for an award in connection with Sir Patrick’s demise as it was revealed by The Times that he had bought Farthings, Sir Patrick’s house in Selsey, West Sussex for £480,000 in 2008, paying about £40,000 above the market value to ensure the astronomer could stay in the home he had lived in for four decades. According to The Sunday Times, Brian leased the property back to Moore on the same day he bought it – charging ‘one peppercorn if demanded’ for a 25-year lease. A noble gesture for sure but perhaps it is more important to look at the man who found himself in need of this assistance and the reasons why he wasn’t able to secure his own finances.
Sir Patrick bought Farthings for £4,000 in cash in 1967 but the house was never financially secure. Neighbours said Sir Patrick instead spent his money on telescopes, annual New Year’s Eve parties for the village and helping young astronomers through university. Neighbour Eileen Nolan, 73, said: ‘He never was aware how much money he had or how little he had. He gave away any income he made to the point where he had no security himself except that which his friends supplied’. He wrote more than 70 books during his lifetime, most of the manuscripts banged out on a 1908 manual typewriter. The space enthusiast had an abhorrence of new technology. With his boundless energy and many interests, Patrick Moore could have made a fortune, but he said his astronomy would have suffered.
Patrick Moore (Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore), astronomer, television presenter, writer and Good Guy, born 4 March 1923; died 9 December 2012.