Some of the magazine team at The Sky at Night 50th anniversary party. From left to right: Graham Southorn, Chris Bramley, Daniel Down, Paul Parsons, Steve Marsh and Sarah Reed


We are all deeply saddened by the passing of Sir Patrick, who died at home early in the afternoon on Sunday 9 December.

The world has lost perhaps its best-known astronomer.

Patrick was unwavering in his support for the magazine.

Since issue one he was our Editor Emeritus, writing two columns each month without a break.

Both demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge.

His Moonwatch column showed the level of detail that he could summon forth on his favourite subject, while his Universe according to… column was a showcase for the his wide-ranging intellect, touching on subjects as broad as radio astronomy and historical figures such as Charles Messier and William Herschel.

He was surely one of the most passionate astronomers in the world – his enthusiasm for astronomy and space exploration was an inspiration to all who watched the monthly episodes of The Sky at Night.

Never one to let age dull his energy, his last appearance, on December’s programme, can still be seen on BBC iPlayer.

In presenting The Sky at Night Patrick set an unparalleled record – he was at the helm of the show for over 55 years, making it the longest running programme with the same presenter.

His passion took him all over the globe and put him in contact with countless space scientists and astronauts, who were all honoured to appear on the programme.

Yet Patrick never lost the common touch.

He was very approachable and took introducing new generations to astronomy very seriously, as well as encouraging amateurs to observe the Moon and the planets in order to help astronomical research.

In later years, when age restricted his ability to use his telescopes, he had no reservations about letting amateurs use the equipment in his garden. Many visitors were thrilled to be using such historic observing pieces.

In Patrick, we have lost a unique figure, an inspiration in the world of science who was also an entertainer, a musician.

His legacy will live on in the millions he inspired to look up at the night sky.


Chris Bramley