Bath's Herschel Museum of Astronomy pays tribute to Sir Patrick Moore
The organisers of a Bath museum which owes its success to Sir Patrick Moore has paid tribute to the extraordinary astronomer.
The 89-year-old writer, broadcaster and eccentric helped to galvanise action to save what is now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in New King Street.
The city had a close relationship with Sir Patrick because of his longstanding involvement with the museum, based in the house where Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781.
He was patron of the museum and also president of the William Herschel Society set up to acknowledge his influence.
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Francis Ring, of the society, said it was Sir Patrick’s “enthusiastic support” together with the generosity and energy of doctors Leslie and Elizabeth Hilliard that saved the house, which was threatened with demolition.
The Hilliards bought the building in what Sir Patrick subsequently called “truly a magnificent gesture” and the museum was established.
Sir Patrick agreed to become president of the society, which was founded in 1977 and suggested there should be an annual public lecture, many of which he came to Bath to chair.
Mr Ring said: “He always gave particular attention to questions asked by children. We shall miss him.”
Curator Debbie James said Sir Patrick had been generous with his time.
“Sir Patrick scripted and narrated the museum’s film on the Herschels, Constructing the Heavens. He also introduces the museum’s virtual tour. Sir Patrick wrote several booklets about William, John and Caroline Herschel which are on sale in the museum shop. He supported museum events; coming to unveil the statue of the Herschels in the garden in the 1980s and opening the Star Vault astronomy auditorium in 2003. Sir Patrick Moore was one of the greatest educators, bringing astronomy to life for thousands. He was in every way the ideal patron for the museum.”
Sir Patrick once played 21 xylophone pieces at the Theatre Royal, including 19 which he had written himself.