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Surprising astronomers


Edmund Halley was too bored to stay in school. He sailed south to create the first accurate catalogue of the stars in the southern hemisphere. A force of nature like the comet he discovered, Halley published the first map of the winds on Earth’s surface; led the earliest global magnetic survey; and constructed the first diving bell, among other ventures.

Anyone who thought astronomers were quiet fellows with one eye glued to a telescope would have been disabused by Sir Patrick Moore who for the last fifty years has hosted the BBC television show The Sky at Night .

Maeve Kennedy describes his fierce charms in the Guardian. The show's longevity reflected its popularity. Kennedy writes,

According to legend one BBC controller asked a board meeting, "Should we get rid of The Sky At Night?", to be greeted by a chorus of incredulous laughter from everyone else at the table. He's long since gone.

Moore is still going strong.