Tributes paid to Sir Patrick Moore

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Fellow scientists speak of how Sir Patrick inspired a generation

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, host of the long-running The Sky at Night, has died at the age of 89. Tributes have been paid from a variety of people.

"His name is almost synonymous with astronomy, I think. His programmes, his books, they were the way that almost everybody who's interested in astronomy in this country got started.

"You can't be interested in astronomy and not stumble across something that Patrick has done. It's such a huge body of work," said Dr Marek Kakula, from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

"What he did was something very straightforward, he would tell us what to look for and where to look for it - and for budding astronomers everywhere that is what we need, that information.

"But he would tell us more, he would go into depth, he would take us on a journey through space and we can't ask for better than that really," said space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

"Patrick was the last of a lost generation, a true gentleman, the most generous in nature that I ever knew, and an inspiration to thousands in his personal life, and to millions through his 50 years of unique broadcasting.

"It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century," said Queen guitarist Brian May, who holds a PhD in astrophysics.

"Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him! Patrick certainly leaves a wonderful legacy, though. The generations of astronomers and scientists he introduced to the night sky," tweeted Professor Brian Cox.

"He'd built up such a trust from the British public and from his international public. When any of the rest of us say... 'here's an interesting fact about black holes', you can almost hear people saying: 'Oh I never understand this stuff. I hated science at school.'

"But when Patrick said it, then people lent forward and they thought yes, I'm going to understand this. I'm going to believe what I'm told. And he earned that over years of utterly fearless broadcasting," said Sky at Night presenter Chris Lintott.

His achievements at the BBC are unmatched; presenting The Sky at Night for a record 55 years, and inspiring generations of people to marvel at the wonders of the night sky.

"He will be missed by countless fans not only because he was a popular entertainer and musician but also because he was a highly distinguished astronomer who always prided himself on being 'an amateur' whilst winning the recognition of fellow scientists from across the world," acting BBC director general Tim Davie said in a tribute.

"He was passionate, he was dedicated and had an unselfish love of astronomy and he passed that on to everybody who knew him and he came across. He was a difficult person personally to deal with on many occasions; he was sometimes awkward, truculent, stubborn - but that was Patrick.

"He was not a professionally trained astronomer and yet did professional quality work, particularly when it came to mapping the Moon in the 1950s - I think every astronomer in the world owes something to Patrick Moore," said ex-BBC science correspondent and fellow astronomer Dr David Whitehouse.

"Beyond The Sky at Night itself he also established an organisation which is now called the Society for Popular Astronomy... I met people who told me that he'd given them an old telescope of his in order to get them into astronomy.

"Anyone who had a passion for astronomy was welcomed by him... the effort he put in was absolutely unmatched," said space scientist Dr Lucie Green.

"Since I first met Sir Patrick when he dominated a UKIP stage in 1999, he has been a friend and an inspiration - not only to us in UKIP, but across the country and around the world. Today we have seen the passing of a true great, and a true Englishman." said UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of Sir Patrick Moore. He was our founding editor and an inspiration for generations of astronomers," tweeted Astronomy Now magazine.

"He certainly was a character - larger than life, not politically correct and I suspect deliberately not politically correct to stir things. I think he quite enjoyed that.

"He brought astronomy to the attention of a very wide public and was a very good communicator too - that's why Sky at Night ran so long and so successfully," says astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.