GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12705 posts, RR: 80 Reply 1, posted (5 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 1029 times:
Very sad, however in recent years, his 'Sky At Night' program - with a record breaking broadcast history going back to April 1957 - his frailty was apparent, as other contributors did the outside broadcasts.
Naturally, he was a major player in reporting that early, heroic period of the space age and his reporting took him to every continent, including Antarctica.
The Sky At Night was only meant to last a few months, 55 years later it's still broadcast and I watched the latest episide just a few days ago, which was mostly about the planet Mercury and the current and future space probes exploring that world.
He once remarked he had met one of the Wright Brothers (Orville), Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong - in fact he met, interviewed and was friends with several of the Moon-walkers, including Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan.
He had met Wright, as well as Albert Einstein, while on leave in New York during his wartime flying training in Canada
Not only were his extensive Moon maps used as part of the initial planning of Lunar exploration but this work was done entirely an amateur. There is an asteroid named after him.
He had a proud record in WW2, having suffered with heart problems as a child, concealing both this and his age to enlist. It's said that aside from his RAF aircrew role he was involved in refining navigational techniques. Though he spoke little of it afterwards since he was deeply affected by what he experienced, saw and lost in that conflict and seemingly never quite came to terms with this. As well as an old spinal injury from his military service coming back to afflict him in more recent years.
His eccentric demeanour made him a much loved national figure, there was some method in it though, speaking so fast for instance allowed him to get as much information as possible in a 20 minute broadcast and he was not afraid to send himself up too. In one live broadcast in the early days, he managed to accidentally swallow a fly on air!
He was also an accomplished musician - again self taught.
I met him in 1978, we were visiting family friends in his home town on the South Coast and he was conducting tours around his observatories in his back garden.
In recent years, much has been made of the need to science to be made more accessible and popular, Sir Patrick had been doing this since the 1950's on TV and as the author of dozens on books.
Many involved in space sciences today cite Sir Patrick as their inspiration.
connies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 3854 posts, RR: 13 Reply 2, posted (5 months 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 929 times:
Sad news indeed as Sir Patrick was a very important figure not just as an astronomer but as someone who could communicate science to the wider public - as important a function as actually doing the work.
I have a couple of his books, which I used in one-half of my undergraduate double.