A STARGAZING spot in rural Northumberland has been named after the late astronomer and TV personality Sir Patrick Moore.
Part of the Kielder Observatory has been named after the presenter of the BBC show the Sky at Night, who died in December.
Sir Patrick’s colleagues on the programme, plus impressionist Jon Culshaw, joined the observatory’s bosses at a dedication ceremony, which tied in with filming of a new episode of the show at the site.
The observatory, which benefits from England’s darkest skies, has dedicated its largest turret, home of one of the biggest public telescopes in the UK, to Sir Patrick, who passed away on December 9.
Presenters from the science programme including Chris Lintott and its full production team joined Jon Culshaw, who has appeared on many Sky At Night episodes and is a keen amateur astronomer, as well as members of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society at the dedication ceremony.
Mr Culshaw unveiled a plaque with observatory founder director Gary Fildes. Filming then began for the March episode of The Sky At Night.
Chris, lead presenter on the Sky at Night and an Oxford University cosmologist, said it was “wonderful” to visit the “much loved and important facility”, adding Sir Patrick would have loved it.
He said: “I’m sure he would be proud to know that the observatory had been named in his honour.
“He was, after all, first and foremost a lover of the skies, and would have enjoyed the idea that the astronomers of the future would be thinking about him while enjoying some of England’s darkest skies.” Mr Fildes called it “a huge privilege”.
He said: “In our first four years we have had over 40,000 visitors and I bet every one of them was here in one way or another, because of Sir Patrick and the Sky At Night,” he said.
“To be recording new programmes here is special enough, to have the opportunity to recognise a giant of public astronomy more so.
“The whole team here has been inspired by Sir Patrick. Kielder Observatory may not have happened if I hadn’t watched Sky At Night all those years ago and I think all of us would say the same thing. We’re very proud to carry on Sir Patrick’s work and to welcome many hundreds more people to his observatory and the subject he devoted his life to.”