Sir Patrick Moore, Observer Extraordinaire
Sir Patrick Moore, (Fig. 1.1) or, if you really prefer, Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore, the originator of the Caldwell catalog, is best known for being the most prolific author of astronomy books the world has ever known and for presenting the BBC Sky at Night television series since April 1957. If you stop someone in the street in the UK and ask them to name a famous astronomer, they will invariably say “Patrick Moore” instantly, with Professor Stephen Hawking coming a distinct second. I first met Patrick at a British Astronomical Association (BAA) Lunar Section meeting at the Royal Geological Society in Piccadilly, London in September 1970, when I was aged just 12. In my teenage years, I attended many meetings where Patrick was a speaker. Since the early 1980s our paths have crossed many times at BAA subcommittee and council meetings, and on the numerous occasions I have visited his home, or been thrilled to appear with him on the Sky at Night. So, I think, almost 40 years after first meeting him, and almost 30 years after first working with him at the BAA, I know him pretty well. Patrick is that very rare specimen, a man of principle. If he agrees to help you with something and shakes your hand, it is an unbreakable agreement; he never goes back on his word. He is also one of the most generous people I have ever met, yet becomes highly embarrassed if anyone mentions this or the voluntary work he has done for British Astronomy and numerous charities. Many a time I have attended a public lecture by the great man and the chairman or compére has announced Patrick is waiving his fee or donating it to a charity, to thunderous applause. Patrick, like most British amateur astronomers, has no time for political correctness, and he firmly believes that Great Britain is the greatest nation on Earth. Occasionally his forthright views have produced media criticism, but whereas his critics have come and gone, Patrick soldiers on. Every year, since the early 1950s, he has churned out more and more books and articles and his monthly TV program is by far the longest running program with the same presenter in the entire world. Sheer enthusiasm for astronomy (and a bit of luck) is what thrust Patrick into the astronomy limelight during the dawn of the space race and the Apollo lunar landing era. Half a century later, sheer enthusiasm has kept him there.