Monday, 10 December 2012

The Sky at Night

A firm number 11 bat -
facing up without his monocle
Fantasy Bob shares the sadness of cricketers throughout this and other galaxies at the death yesterday of  the legendary and unique TV Astronomer Patrick Moore.

FB's hold on astronomy is tenuous.  The Plough, Orion, Cassiopeia maybe and after that it's just a whole lot of other stars.  But FB's ignorance is not something for which Sir Patrick can be held to account.  Perhaps if Sir Patrick had started to rename the constellations after cricketers FB might have retained more but that chance was lost.

The Sky at Night was a programme that FB had long been aware of, he may have watched occasional episodes without comprehending much of the supernova-ing and black-holing and dwarf-starring.  But if didn't quite absorb all the information about the heavens that was available FB recognised and respected Moore's unquenchable enthusiasm for his subject and his self taught expertise.  Moore was a constant guide to FB as he followed the great adventure of the US Moon  Missions and FB was interested to learn that NASA made use of Moore's own maps of the Moon's surfaces.  Maps he had prepared using his own home made telescope.

Some inspiration for FB?
Reading the many tributes and obituaries that have followed the announcement of his death, FB is comforted to find that Moore was a keen cricketer.  He turned out for the Lords Taverners.   FB wonders if he may actually have seen him play for in the very old days before the Sunday League arrived some of the Taverners' matches were televised.  Maybe not.  He is reported to have been a firm number 11 bat whose curious leg breaks were decidedly unusual.  Perhaps his bowling action was accompanied by his 300 word minute commentary inviting the batsman's attention to a crab nebula passing overhead at the precise moment of delivery.

But FB finds that despite his pathetically hopeless grasp of astronoical knowledge, something of Moore's passion must have sunk in.  One of the many books that Moore published was titled Can You Play Cricket on Mars?  Was this an inspiration to FB's less than inquiring mind? It is after all a very good question.  So good that FB himself examined it about a year ago in this post (Life on Mars) about the current Explorer mission.  FB suspects that Moore's answer might have been more convincing than his own.



  1. Patrick Moore's live commentary in the summer of 1999, when a large cricket ball briefly obscured the sun, was particularly memorable. He also enjoyed being called a dinosaur, given that dinosaurs ruled the earth for a very long period. A man of many talents - and a rare one.