Thursday, 10 January 2013

Patrick Moore - RIP.

Watching the science news on the latest close(ish) fly-by of another asteroid reminded me that one of my favorite astronomers, Patrick Moore, died on December 9, 2012. Born on March 4, 1923, he also worked as a researcher, radio commentator, writer and TV presenter. The astronomy show: The Sky at Night was his creation. First broadcast in April, 1957, it continues as one of TV’s longest running shows.
I remember the first time I watched an episode of The Sky at Night. It was a Saturday night and I always sat up late at weekends to watch the late movies. It was 1979 and I was 11-years-old. I can’t remember which movies I watched, but I do remember that one of the TV channels ran a late-night horror double-bill every Saturday. It was usually an old, 1940s-50s black-and-white movie, followed by one from the 70s. Passing time before the first movie began, I watched The Sky at Night. I was already into science fiction in a big way, but this was the first factual show I ever watched about the planets, stars, cosmos, et al. Astronomy has been one of my hobbies ever since. The grandiose and haunting theme music to The Sky at Night never changed and still resonates with me: At the Castle Gate, by Jean Sibelius.
The monocle-wearing host, Patrick Moore, often fast-talking [particularly when reporting breaking news of a cosmic event], was instantly likeable and succeeded in being both entertaining and educational. In life, despite his long-term health problems, he was highly talented, having self-taught the piano and xylophone. He was also a keen traveler. During World War II, he served with the Royal Air Force, and it was during the war years that he met and fell in love with his fiancĂ©e, Lorna. Tragically, she was killed during a bombing raid and Patrick remained a bachelor for the rest his life, dedicating himself to his life-work and study of astronomy, publishing many books on the subject. A cat-lover, he was a supporter of animal welfare charities and firmly opposed any blood sports. Along with presenting The Sky at Night, he made several appearances on other TV shows over the decades. His radio work also included a small role in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In later years, as his health worsened, he presented The Sky at Night from his home, where he also had his own observatory.

Two of my favorite quotes by him are:

“At my age I do what Mark Twain did. I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I'm not there I carry on as usual.”

“There is absolutely nothing to be said in favor of growing old. There ought to be legislation against it.”

The Sky at Night is now expertly co-presented by Chris Lintott, Pete Lawrence, Paul Abel and Chris North. The physicist, Brian Cox, has also appeared on the show.

Patrick, thank you for bringing the spectacle and mystery of the universe into my small world. I was one of many you inspired to look up in wonder and curiosity at the stars.

In memory of Patrick Moore (March 4, 1923 – December 9, 2012).

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

So it didn’t happen after all. The world did not suddenly end on Friday, December 21, 2012.
Remembering back to previous ‘supposed’ calamitous events that never happened, the so called Y2K [AKA the Millenium Bug], formed part of the back-drop to the third book in my ‘Dark Retribution Quartet’: Hitting Back ...

... set during 1999; another year over-shadowed with mounting paranoia of what disasters might befall us all.
I’m guessing this might be the last we hear of the Mayan calendar [like it all really worked for them!], but my money’s still on the Vogons from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy turning up for real to demolish the Earth to make way for a new hyperspace by-pass.
Ford, put me down for 20. I’m good for it.
Wasn’t the Rapture meant to occur in 2011?
Wasn’t the Hadron Collider going to blow a gasket, snap an elastic band, turn the planet inside out and all of us into dark anti-matter as we spiraled down into a man-made Black Hole [or something]?
Wasn’t it all meant to go snap, crackle and boom way back during 1666 – especially as some fear-mongers decided to exclude the 1 off of the front of the year date?
And these are just a few of many predictions that never came true. I recently heard that ‘something’ was meant to happen during 1996. I must have been asleep for the whole 12 months because whatever alarmist garbage was predicted for that year evaded me.
I’m wondering what the next fear-inducing, money-making prediction will be. Time will tell, but I’ll continue working towards my goals and doing better things with my money, just as I always have.
Sure, bad things happened during those years mentioned, just as they have every year … but still nothing near apocalyptic.
As for me, I’m moving forward, taking it all one step, and one day at a time, concentrating on seeing my various projections through to completion … just as I always have.
I wish everyone a happy, productive, peaceful and safe 2013. 
Vacation’s over … time for me to get back to work.
Keep writing the words!