Dec 12 2012 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Sir Patrick Moore
Members of the Airdrie Astronomical Association have paid tribute to Sir Patrick Moore – the group’s honorary president.
The astronomer, writer and television presenter died last Sunday at his home in West Sussex at the age of 89.
Best known to the nation as the presenter of The Sky at Night on the BBC, Sir Patrick was held in high regard by Monklands astronomy and space enthusiasts.
Aileen Malone, secretary of the association, said: “There are quite a few members who have met Sir Patrick.
“He was a very welcoming man and I know a few people who were invited into his home. His death is a huge loss as he was such a well-known celebrity; a lot of our members became interested because of him and his books.
“We’ve lost two great people in a short space of time now; Neil Armstrong died during the summer and one of the videos we showed as a tribute was Sir Patrick Moore interviewing him.”
Aileen was fortunate enough to meet Sir Patrick and although he never managed to visit the observatory he supported a campaign to keep it open when Airdrie Library was threatened with closure.
Aileen also organised an inter-school rocketry competition and the astronomer kindly signed certificates for the winning entrants.
“His enthusiasm was deeply infectious, and what he had to say was truly inspirational,” she said. “Many of us have benefited from personal contact with him. ”
Arthur Bannister, who is the association’s joint honorary curator, also paid tribute, saying: “As someone has already said, it’s not just Britain but the universe that has lost a great resource. Some thought he was an eccentric old man but he was so knowledgeable and so quick.
“He was an encyclopaedia on astronomy and that’s why he delivered his answers so quickly.
“When I was a young boy I was allowed to stay up to watch him on TV at night. He was the reason I became interested in astronomy — he was a shining light.”
Arthur also revealed that Sir Patrick called him up after the association asked him to be honorary president.
He said: “Sir Patrick telephoned me when I was in Tesco with a friend. I was totally gobsmacked. He said that he was unable to travel up due to his health but would be delighted to accept.
“He also told me to pop in and see him if I was ever down that way and to come at night if I wanted to use his telescope.”
Two young members of the association also received correspondence from Sir Patrick; the astronomer replied to Meghan Bain and Sean Blair after they wrote to him.