It was one of those coincidences. I was perhaps 500 yards from where I met him when I heard and it was the person who had taken me to meet him who told me the news.
It’s an amusement arcade now I think. Tucked in the corner of the bus station next to Lloyds Bank.
But three decades ago it was Stevenage Bookshop. A tiny, cosy, dimly lit sanctuary of literature in the bustling centre of the New Town. It was here almost 30 years ago that I was taken by my Father, shepherded inside between the tightly packed shelves and made to wait patiently to meet Patrick, clutching my copy of ‘Astronomy for the Under 10s’.
I remember being nervous and shy, but when I was introduced he was warm, friendly, interested in what I wanted to ask him and gave me answers that have stuck with me and my astronomy ever since.
He told me to buy a good pair of binoculars and mount them on a tripod, buy a planisphere and learn the sky. He also told me to record what I see and if I enjoyed drawing to have a go at a few sketches. He signed my book and looked up and said ‘keep it up’ and shook my hand and then in it placed his card. “If you are ever in Selsey do drop in for a chat and a cup of tea.”
From what I know of him since I am sure he meant it. Wish I had taken him up on the invitation.
The binoculars I purchased soon after and they are still with me all these years later. The planisphere and the hunt for a shop that sold one is written into our family lore and as for astro-sketching, well I hope he would have liked some of my efforts.
I for one will miss Patrick Moore, he inspired my interest, educated my young inquisitive brain and I still take his advice and guidance from innumerable books and articles and of course Sky At Night will never be the same.
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS