20Sep2013

Sir Patrick Moore Astronomy Centre Plans Scrapped.

Patrick


Sir Patrick said he hoped that his West Sussex home would one day be converted into an astronomy centre in his name. Photo: PAUL GROVER

Brian May has confirmed that Sir Patrick Moore’s home will not be converted into an astronomy centre, despite his close friend’s wishes. For a man who did so much this is a tragedy!

Despite having a personal fortune in excess of £90 million, Queen guitarist Brian May has found himself unable to fulfil the last wish of his close friend and hero, the astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

The colourful Sky At Night presenter, who died aged 89 last December, fervently wanted his beloved West Sussex home to be converted into an astronomy centre in his name. Now, less than a year after his death, I learn his wish has been thwarted.

Moore had hoped that such an idea would encourage a new generation of astronomers. Now Brian May has confirmed that plans for a museum have been abandoned.  This is despite May’s undoubted devotion to Moore. In 2008, the musician, who has a PhD in astrophysics, quietly bought Patrick’s house for £480,000 — £40,000 over its value.

 May immediately leased it back to him at an annual rent of ‘one peppercorn’. Four years previously, he had also purchased the adjoining land to free his friend from financial worry. May, who describes Moore as ‘a father figure’, was the driving force behind the museum scheme. Now he admits this is not going to happen. The house and land may even be sold.

Brian May

Brian May

 May, currently voicing God in the West End musical Spamalot, tells me: ‘I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a museum at Farthings. It hasn’t worked out.’ Although reluctant to go into details, he adds: ‘We are going to commemorate Patrick in a section of the Science Museum. It will probably be called The Sir Patrick Moore Area. Patrick was a dear friend and a wonderful man. I still miss him.  ‘As for the house, its future has yet to be decided.’

 Moore lived at his thatched cottage, Farthings, in Selsey for almost 50 years — first with his mother until she died in 1981, and then alone with his cat, Ptolemy. He comforted himself in his declining years with the prospect of the house continuing to be a focus for astronomy when he was gone.

 Because of Patrick’s failing health, the BBC made arrangements for The Sky At Night to be filmed at the house for the last ten years of his life. Poignantly, he presented his final show from there days before his demise.

Sir Patrick said he hoped that his West Sussex home would one day be converted into an astronomy centre in his name.  The Queen guitarist, who has described Sir Patrick as a “father figure”, told the Daily Mail :”I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a museum at Farthings. It hasn’t worked out.

The astronomer suffered from a wartime spine injury and arthritis in the years before his death.  May, who has a PhD in astro physics, told The Telegraph last year that the Royal Astronomical Society had rejected the treasures left behind by Sir Patrick.

 At the time May said: “You’d think the Royal Astronomical Society would be interested, but they’re, like, ‘Oh, we’ve got an awful lot of stuff already’ “Patrick leaves behind him a wonderful library and all these amazing things from astronomers he met. You think it might be easy to give it to a museum, but they’ll stick it in a cupboard somewhere and no one will see it.” Source: The Telegraph

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