To celebrate the centenary birth year of British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, Francis Andrew has undertaken the monumental task of writing appraisals on some of the works of Sir Patrick Moore, which appear as volume 1 of A Great Man of Astronomy. I say “some of the works” because this is indeed a monumental task as Moore was indeed a prolific writer. To do justice to Sir Patrick Moore’s books in the form of appraisals for each, two or maybe three volumes of similar length would be necessary. This first volume indeed shows the gravity of the task.
The volume is divided into ten sections and an appendix. Section 1 is entitled “Mrs. Gertrude Moore.” It may seem a little odd that the first section is devoted to someone other than Patrick Moore and to someone who wrote only one book in her entire long life, but it reflects Moore’s great devotion to his mother. Mrs. Moore in Space is about imaginary creatures who inhabit the planets of our solar system. Well illustrated, this book brings out the artistic abilities of Mrs. Moore as she vividly depicts these weird and wonderful beings in a splash of colors.
Section 2, “The Moon,” appraises eight books on Earth’s closest neighbor. Although Sir Patrick Moore observed many celestial objects, he will always be known as a lunar observer.
Section 3, “Biographical/Autobiographical,” contains one autobiography and three biographies of Sir Patrick Moore. The biographies are the works of Martin Mobberley, a close friend of Sir Patrick Moore.
In section 4, “Edited Works,” some of the Yearbook of Astronomy are reviewed. They start at 1962 and go on to 1964, when Dr. J. G. Porter was editor and Patrick Moore was subeditor. Andrew has gotten as far as 1972 with his appraisals, and Moore was full editor from 1964 onward.
Section 5 deals with Moore’s science fiction writings. Moore’s extensive talents spilled over into the realm of science fiction. Twelve of Moore’s science fiction books are appraised by Andrew.
Section 6 is entitled “Translated Works.” However, Moore translated only one work, The Planet Mars, by Gerard de Vaucouleurs. Moore was competent in French; therefore, he was well qualified to translate this work.
“Humerous” is the title of section 7. The four books appraised by Andrew reveal Moore’s sense of humor.
In section 8, entitled “Spoof,” only one book, Flying Saucers from Mars, which went under the authorship of a certain Cedric Allingham, is appraised. Martin Mobberley is sure that the real author is Patrick Moore and provides very convincing evidence that it is, though Moore always vehemently denied authorship.
Section 9, “Astronomy General,” appraises fifteen of Moore’s works on the subject that was closest to his heart and for which he is well-known.
Section 10, “Various,” reviews two of Moore’s books that are on nonastronomical subjects.
The appendix contains the transcript of a presentation on the subject of transient lunar phenomena (TLP) given by Francis A. Andrew to the Center for Space Research and the Jordanian Astronomical Society on October 21 and 22, respectively, in 2019.
Admittedly, A Great Man of Astronomy is not bedtime reading; but for those whose interest in astronomy was influenced by Sir Patrick Moore, this book, published in the birth anniversary year of Sir Patrick Moore, is a wonderful keepsake as a tribute to the grand old man of astronomy.
Jay Lakhani, Epsom, Great Britain