Geek Speak: Ode to Sir Patrick Moore

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By Lianna Brinded | December 10, 2012 10:46 PM EST

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore with his knighthood that he received from The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in London March 2, 2001 (Photo: Reuters)

Sir Patrick Moore, who passed away at the age of 89, has left behind a legacy that inspired millions and even became a respected cult figure for his role as a levitating head in GamesMaster.

He was one of the original nerds, one who was passionate and curious about our place in the universe but also happy to slap academia squarely in the face.

The Professional Amateur

Moore was an inspiration and I can only imagine he will remain so for those, like myself, who are enthusiastic science amateurs.

Despite his almost cartoonish appearance of a gloriously rotund academic, sporting a monocle and a plummy misdemeanour, he was not an elitist. He even described himself as an "amateur astronomer".

He was someone that proved that passion, curiosity, determination and dedication can take you far; even if you have a life that was blighted by a number of tragedies or ill health.

Despite never gaining a degree in science, he became the poster-boy and pioneer for inspiring millions to learn more about what lay beyond earth through astronomy, and pulled in a fervent following from untrained audiences around the world.

That very inspiration, though, spawned criticism from academics, with one member of the Royal Society famously declaring that they would never admit him "because he makes science popular"- not because he didn't have a degree.

He didn't care and in 1957, his The Sky at Night programme set the record for the longest-running series with the same presenter.

He only ever missed one episode.

Eventually, in 2001, Moore received his knighthood from The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in London for his work in astronomy.

What we all loved about Moore was his unbridled enthusiasm for the stars and up until his battle with ill health, which prevented him being able to look through a telescope when he became wheelchair bound, he spent almost all his money on others, including buying telescopes for budding astronomers.

But he was also an enigma, which only added to the uniqueness of this man.

He wrote more than 70 books during his lifetime, from factual astronomy books to young adult fiction novels that were based on adventures in space. However he wrote most of these on a 1908 manual typewriter, as he famously detested new forms of technology.

The GamesMaster and Musician

Tantamount to the core of Moore, he was a believer in self-teaching and that anything can be achieved with the right amount of chutzpah.

If he was interested in something, he went full throttle on furthering his interests.

His career in astronomy stemmed from his interest at the age of six. In tandem, he taught himself to compose music at the age of nine and to play the xylophone.

In what only can seem to happen in Moore's life, he once played the piano while his musical partner played the violin but that partner was Albert Einstein.

Notably and to all nerds out there, Moore played the GamesMaster for the show of the same name.

As a disembodied head that challenged gamers and doled out hints and tips, he was the representative for the cult classic between 1992 and 1998.

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