Astronomer and TV personality Sir Patrick Moore has died aged 89. A statement issued by his friends and colleagues said that the stargazer "passed away peacefully at 12.25pm this afternoon" at his home in Selsey, West Sussex.
"After a short spell in hospital last week, it was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy.”
Sir Patrick presented the BBC astronomy series The Sky at Night for a record-setting 55 years but suffered from ill health in recent times, having had a pacemaker fitted in 2006. He passed away after his body was unable to fight off an infection.
The statement continued: "Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and continued to work and write at a great rate, but this time his body was too weak to overcome the infection which set in a few weeks ago.
"He was able to perform on his world record-holding TV programme The Sky at Night right up until the most recent episode.
"His executors and close friends plan to fulfil his wishes for a quiet ceremony of interment, but a farewell event is planned for what would have been Patrick's 90th birthday in March 2013."
Instantly recognisable thanks to his trademark monocle and unique vocal delivery, Sir Patrick had only missed one episode of The Sky at Night since the show began in 1957. As well as his occasional televised xylophone performances, Sir Patrick also found fame as the star of Channel 4’s GamesMaster in the 1990s.
Queen guitarist and keen astronomer Brian May paid tribute to Sir Patrick, calling him a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".
He said: "Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life.
"Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."
Professor Brian Cox took to Twitter to pay tribute to the Sky at Night host, claiming that Sir Patrick “helped inspire my love of astronomy”.
He wrote: “Very sad news about Sir Patrick. Helped inspire my love of astronomy. I will miss him!
“Patrick certainly leaves a wonderful legacy though. The generations of astronomers and scientists he introduced to the night sky.”
Sir Patrick received his knighthood in 2001, won a Bafta for his services to television in 2002 and was also a member of the Royal Society.
In addition to his TV work, Sir Patrick wrote more than 60 books on astronomy.