On the week of the 700th episode of The Sky at Night we thought it was time for a mini-bio of the man himself – Sir Patrick Moore. Like most people with an interest of the Cosmos we have been inspired by Sir Patrick for many years. With a change from our normal format we thought that it would be interesting to have him tell us all about himself – Deskarti
I was born in Pinner, but when I was six months old my parents moved to Bognor (it wasn’t Bognor Regis then) and I am essentially a Sussex boy. My father was in the Army – he won the MC in the First World War – but I didn’t take after him. My mother was a trained singer and a talented artist too. From her I inherited the music, but not the art!
My education was disjointed. The plan was Prep. School, Eton, Cambridge – I never made any of them. During my boyhood I was handicapped by heart trouble; I managed my Cambridge entrance exams externally, but then came the war, and I joined the RAF as a navigator with Bomber Command (I admit that I wasn’t 100% honest about my age or fitness, but when I was found out it no longer mattered, and Flight-Lieutenant Caldwell-Moore was not even told that he had been a naughty boy). At the end of the war I returned home, then to East Grinstead. Cambridge was still open to me, but it meant taking a Government grant, which went against the grain. I prefer to stand on my own feet.
My interest in astronomy went back to the age of 7, and I had several slices of luck; a small observatory was near me, I was able to use it, and I published my first paper (about the Moon) when I was 13. After the war, I wrote a book about the Moon; it caught on, and writing took over my life – farewell, Cambridge! I set up my own observatory, first at East Grinstead and then Selsey, and since then I have been a freelance writer.
My aim was to spread interest about astronomy; in 1957 I began my TV series The Sky at Night, now in its 54th year of an unbroken run. Many leading astronomers and astronauts have joined me. I hope I have achieved my object, but that must be left for others to judge. I have been over most of the world, from Antarctica to Death Valley, so I have seen a great deal.
I won’t bore you with personal details. Suffice to say that Lorna, whom I was to marry, was killed by a German bomb when we were both twenty (1943!) and so I remain, very sadly, a bachelor. My mother, to whom I was devoted, stayed with me; she died in 1981. I am now 88, and not very mobile, again thanks to the War. But until the age of 78 I was still playing cricket. I am well looked after in my Selsey home – and do not forget my two all-important cats, Jeannie and Ptolemy!
For any of you who missed last nights 700th Sky at Night it is being broadcast again tomorrow at 7:30 pm on BBC4