Science Museum acquires Sir Patrick Moore Archive

Sir Patrick Moore
Patrick by Ken Towner, Rex Features

9 December 2014

A unique collection of objects, manuscripts and memorabilia from the archive of astronomer and TV presenter Sir Patrick Moore has been acquired by the Science Museum. Renowned as a writer and researcher in the field of astronomy and as presenter of the BBC’s The Sky at Night television series for over 50 years, Sir Patrick died two years ago today, on the 9th December 2012.

Since 1968, Sir Patrick had lived and worked at Farthings, his home in Selsey, West Sussex, building up an extensive personal archive related to his astronomical research and work in popularising astronomy.

The objects and written material acquired by the Science Museum illustrate Sir Patrick’s many years of work in the UK amateur astronomy community, and his success in bringing astronomy to wider audiences. The collection includes draft scripts and memorabilia from his time as presenter of the BBC’s The Sky At Night, which still holds the record as the longest running television series with the same original presenter.

The archive contains approximately 70 of Sir Patrick’s observation books, featuring over sixty years’ worth of detailed drawings and records of the night skies, as well as manuscripts for the significant number of astronomy and fiction books that he wrote. Among the objects acquired by the Science Museum is a 12 ½ inch reflecting telescope which Sir Patrick nicknamed ‘Oscar’ and used for mapping the Moon.

Dr Brian May, Astrophysicist, musician and close friend of Sir Patrick Moore said,

“We, Patrick’s friends and executors, have worked for a year to try to find the most fitting home for his core astronomical and personal archive. We’re thrilled that the Science Museum has now agreed to give this precious resource a home. We’re sure Patrick would be honoured that his legacy – a National Treasure – will be in the perfect place – safe in Britain’s top Scientific Museum, with plans for the material to be accessible to future generations. We feel there is no more fitting resting place for Patrick’s legendary life’s work.”

Alison Boyle, Deputy Keeper of Science & Medicine at the Science Museum, said, “Sir Patrick Moore was a towering figure in astronomy and broadcasting during a remarkable career spanning most of the 20th century. This archive will help to inform the Museum’s future astronomy and space displays, and will become an important resource for all historians of popular astronomy.”

Sir Patrick Moore’s archive will be kept at the Science Museum Library & Archives at Wroughton in Wiltshire, where, once it has been catalogued, it will be available to the public for research purposes.