Tributes from astronomers, friends, and former colleagues have poured in for the "irreplaceable" astronomer Sir Patrick Moore who died over the weekend aged 89. The eccentric broadcaster passed away peacefully on Sunday at his home in Selsey, West Sussex, after being struck down by an infection.His close friend, Queen guitarist Brian May, said the world had "lost a priceless treasure that can never be replaced". Brian, who co-wrote two books with Sir Patrick, paid tribute to a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".
He said: "Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life. Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."Professor Brian Cox, who presents a number of science programmes for the BBC, wrote on Twitter: "Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!"Sir Patrick inspired successive generations of stargazers with his TV series The Sky At Night and wrote more than 60 books on astronomy. He celebrated the 55th anniversary of the BBC programme in April, as it became longest running series with the same presenter.The astronomer only missed one episode since it began in 1957, when he suffered a severe bout of food poisoning in 2004 which nearly killed him. The final programme with him in it was broadcast just last Monday.
Speaking at a party to celebrate the 55th anniversary of The Sky At Night, he said he hoped the stargazing series would continue "indefinitely". He said: "I'm absolutely staggered. I never thought when I began doing television shows that I'd be on for another year, let alone 55 years."I didn't know if I was going to be good enough or if the subject matter would hold up. I think I'm exactly the same now as I was when I started. I just haven't got the voice I once had."The scientist never had children or married, although he did become engaged during World War II. After joining the RAF as a Bomber Command Navigator aged just 16, Sir Patrick met a nurse named Lorna who was to become his wife.The young couple fell deeply in love and became engaged. But three years after they met, she was killed by a bomb which struck her ambulance in London in a German air-raid.
Sir Patrick never got over her death and said 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."