About Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS (4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012) was an English amateur astronomer who attained prominent status in that field as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter.
Moore was a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world's longest-running television series with the same original presenter, The Sky at Night on the BBC. As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television.
Moore was also a self-taught xylophone and piano player, as well as an accomplished composer and a former amateur cricketer, golfer and chess player. In addition to his many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II; his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war and he never married or had children.
Moore was born in Pinner in Middlesex on 4 March 1923 to Captain Charles Trachsel Caldwell-Moore MC (died 1947) and Gertrude, née White (died 1981) and moved to Bognor Regis, and later East Grinstead (both in Sussex), where he spent his childhood. His youth was marked by heart problems, which left him in poor health, and as a result he was educated at home by private tutors. He developed an interest in astronomy at the age of six and joined the British Astronomical Association at the age of eleven. He was invited to run a small observatory in East Grinstead at the age of fourteen, after his mentor – the man who ran the observatory – was killed in a road accident. At the age of sixteen he began wearing a monocle – an unusual step for a young man even in 1939 – after an oculist told him his right eye was weaker than his left eye. Three years later, he began wearing a full set of dentures.
Moore lied about his age to join the RAF and fight in World War II at the age of sixteen, and from 1940 until 1945 he served as a navigator in RAF Bomber Command, reaching the rank of flight lieutenant. He first received his flying training in Canada, during which time he met Albert Einstein and Orville Wright while on leave in New York. The war had a significant influence on his life: his only romance ended when his fiancée, a nurse called Lorna, was killed by a bomb which struck her ambulance in London. 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 because of her death "if I saw the entire German nation sinking into the sea, I could be relied upon to help push it down."
Moore stated that he was "exceptionally close" to his mother Gertrude, a talented artist who lived with him at his Selsey home, which is still adorned with her paintings of "bogeys" – little friendly aliens – which she regularly produced and which were sent out annually as the Moores' Christmas cards. Moore wrote the foreword for Gertrude's 1974 book Mrs Moore In Space.
- Memorial Page
- Moore, Patrick (2003), The Autobiography, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7472-6427-9