I'd just like to add my thoughts at the passing of Sir Patrick.
The only reason I can identify stars and constellations, and take pleasure in noting the steady movements throughout the year of the planets is down to him. It was his enthusiasm and lively, eccentric manner that got me interested in science as a kid and even now, if I ever feel a need to check on such matters as the names of the main stars in Orion, I don’t look it up on the Net. Instead I'll get out one of Patrick's old dog-eared textbooks some of which were written back in the 50s or before.
In truth, his declining condition in recent years has meant this sad news was inevitable. This week on The Sky at Night I got the distinct impression this was the last time we'd see him. He was clearly in very poor health, but even then he presided over the monthly program, which has been an important fixture during my entire life, with his usual commitment to science and avoidance of dumbing down. Even when the likes of Brian 'I like loud music instead of content' Cox appeared on his show, the content would still be the same mixture of complex science about distant galaxies combined with basic help in identifying the pole star. As a man who made serious science accessible and fun, he was the simply the best.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
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