Sir Patrick Moore

Inspirational instruments

Back in early June, two colleagues and I from BBC Sky At Night Magazine went down to Selsey to make a short film about the recent renovation of Sir Patrick Moore’s telescopes. We were lucky with the weather and managed to spend a whole day filming in the Sun, surrounded by Patrick’s telescopes and their observatories.

Above: Sir Patrick’s 2.8 inch refractor Credit: BBC Sky At Night magazine

Patrick told us about the history of his telescopes; from the 2.8 inch refractor, which he published his first paper* with, to the famous 12.5 inch which he used to map the Moon. Recently they have been restored by a skilled engineer and they are looking fantastic and (most importantly) are in perfect working order. Patrick’s observatories were also renovated by members of the Stargazers’ Lounge forum and two representatives from there joined us on the day, to be interviewed.

The film we made is now on the coverdisc of the September issue of Sky At Night. It’s my first stab at presenting anything on camera, so be gentle, I’m still learning. Below is a short trailer for the video. Also look out for my cover feature in the magazine on ‘The next supernova’ (pages 36-41).

*Small craterlets in the Mare Crisium, for the BAA Journal, written by Patrick when he was 14!

The Sky At Night – We just don’t know!

This month’s Sky At Night is about things we just don’t know about. Patrick is joined by Chris, Kate Land and Prof. Gerry Gilmore to talk about everything from what was before the Big Bang to dark matter and dark energy. The episode covers the topics of inflation as well as the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation and even why we are here at this time in the history of the Universe. You can catch the episode on BBC iPlayer here and again (extended by 10 mins) on various BBC channels.

The Sky At Night – Return to the Moon

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If you didn’t catch last night’s Sky At Night programme then you should try and watch it in the next 7 days on BBC iPlayer or when it is repeated on BBC 2 this Saturday at 13:30*.

The episode is an hour long special called ‘Return to the Moon’. It covers everything from NASA’s Constellation program, the recent lunar eclipse, the hardware NASA are going to be using, the UK’s MoonLITE experiment and some great exchanges on the history of lunar observing (and of course Sir Patrick’s contribution) between Dr Allan Chapman and Sir Patrick. It really is a great episode and one not to miss.

Oh and if you haven’t already seen it you should check out the latest astounding image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Chris has it over here.

*The BBC’s What’s On listing that I found lists the repeated episode as only 20 minutes long.

Above: NASA’s Orion craft (left) docked with the Altair lunar lander.
Image credit: NASA

50 Years of The Sky At Night

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The Sky At Night celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary with a party at Sir Patrick Moore’s home in Selsey on the 24th of April this year. Many famous astronomers both amateur and professional from all over the world came to celebrate as well as Dr Piers Sellers (NASA Astronaut) who compered the party. I was lucky enough to be invited too and I can say that it was a very fitting tribute to Sir Patrick and the Sky At Night team. Images © Will Gater 2007