Collecting the opinion pieces of Sir Patrick Moore into a single anthology has proven to be an emotional trip down memory lane; a sharp reminder, to paraphrase Brian May, that while there will never be another Patrick Moore, we were lucky to have one at all. Published monthly from the inaugural issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine onwards, Patrick’s Universe According to... columns abound in both the eccentric wit and keen insight that inspired so many of us to look up at the night sky in the first place.
This special edition represents the definitive collection of those columns. Though Patrick had free rein as to what he wrote about, he always came back to certain themes, and it’s around these we’ve based this volume. Our journey starts with the Moon and extends to the other denizens of the cosmos, practical observing and the search for life. Elsewhere, Patrick shares some personal anecdotes, pays homage to some of astronomy’s great pioneers, and reflects on the big challenges of the future.
The columns are unabridged and unedited as much as possible, though a natural consequence of this is that some of Patrick’s statements appear quite dated – some allude to things that have since happened, others to things that did not come to pass. These shine a light on the fact that the fields of astronomy and space science are still evolving at a rapid pace, and that is incredibly exciting to see. Bear in mind that each column is presented with the date of its original publication, and should be considered in that context.
It seems fitting to end this introduction in the same way Patrick did his first column all those years ago, with two short sentences that perfectly set the stage for the remarkable collection of musings and reminiscences you have in your hands.
Welcome to The Universe According to Patrick Moore. Much lies ahead.