Credit: Shutterstock/Patrick Moore

There are probably races far more intelligent than we are. We can’t get to them but they might get to us

The nation’s best-known and loved xylophone playing amateur astronomer, Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was an ever-present figure on British television, presenting The Sky at Night from 24 April 1957 until 7 January 2013 - the longest TV run in history.

Born in Pinner, Middlesex, Patrick was often poorly as a child, and as a result was educated by private tutors at home. From the age of six he was a keen astronomer, and by the time he was 14 he was running his own observatory. Patrick was just 16 when he first joined up with the RAF to fight in the Second World War, lying about his age in order to serve. The war had a lasting effect on him; after his childhood sweetheart and fiancee was killed during the London blitz, he would never enter into another romantic relationship. He would also harbour a lifelong dislike of Germany.

Moore became a household name in the 1950s after his television programme The Sky at Night became a regular fixture on the BBC. Already an established author and expert on all matters lunar, his eccentric appearance and charisma helped him to grow a loyal audience. He famously kept his personal details in the phone book, and would reply to every letter he received from fans and conspiracy theorists alike. He presented his monthly show over 700 times in all, marking a record that is unlikely to be broken.