The British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has died at the age of 89.
He passed away today at 12.25pm British time at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, surrounded by his family, friends and beloved pet cat Ptolemy.
Sir Patrick was born in 1923. Ill health in his youth meant he was educated at home and it was there where he developed his passion for astronomy.
He was a World War II veteran. He lied about his age and so was able to join the armed forces at the age of 16. He served as a navigator in RAF Bomber Command, reaching the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
His only romance ended tragically during the War when his fiancée, a nurse called Lorna, was killed by a bomb which struck her ambulance. Moore subsequently remarked that he never married because "there was no one else for me...second best is no good for me...I would have liked a wife and family, but it was not to be." In his autobiography he stated that after sixty years he still thought about her, and that he could never forgive the Germans. In his book he wrote "if I saw the entire German nation sinking into the sea, I could be relied upon to help push it down."
Sir Patrick received an injury during the War which caused him severe pain from time to time in the years since.
In 1957, Sir Patrick was asked to present a new monthly BBC TV series, The Sky at Night. He accepted the offer. The first episode was aired on 24th April 1957 and Sir Patrick hosted it ever since. Until today it was the world's longest-running TV series with the same presenter.
In 1969, there was a special episode of The Sky at Night to cover the Moon landing and, in 1970, Sir Patrick interviewed Neil Armstrong.
He was also an outspoken critic of the EU and was a member and patron of UKIP, the political party which wants Britain out of the EU. In the late 1970s Sir Patrick was also a patron of the anti-immigration United Country Party.
British television presenter and physicist Professor Brian Cox posted a message on Twitter: "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!" http://tv.uk.msn.com/features/sir-patri ... es-aged-89