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Q: Obscure Stuff ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Obscure Stuff
Category: Science > Astronomy
Asked by: mongolia-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 23 Jul 2006 13:12 PDT
Expires: 22 Aug 2006 13:12 PDT
Question ID: 748788
I read somewhere some time ago that for the first showings of the BBC
program  "The Sky at Night" (first shown back in 1957) Patrick Moore
was NOT the very first presenter.

Who was the first presenter and for how many programs did the person present 
 "The Sky at Night"?

Or is my information just wrong?

Subject: Re: Obscure Stuff
Answered By: jdb-ga on 23 Jul 2006 14:01 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello, I am responding to your question regarding who presented the
first showings of "The Sky at Night". The answer to your question is
that it was Moore who hosted the first showings. However Chris Lintott
hosted the show in july 2004 when Moore had a bout of food poisoning.
These days Chris Lintott co hosts with Moore.

This site gives information regarding the first showings of The Sky at Night:

" At 10:30 pm on April 26, 1957, in an event that was to be a landmark
of his career, Moore presented the first episode of The Sky at Night,
a monthly BBC television program for astronomy enthusiasts. Since
then, he has appeared on the show every month, with the exception of
July 2004 due to a near-fatal bout of food poisoning, making him the
world's longest-running television presenter and a well-recognised
face on British television. Since 2004, the programme has been
presented from Sir Patrick's home rather than at the BBC studios due
to mobility problems caused by arthritis."


" 'The Sky at Night' is a monthly television programme on astronomy
produced by the BBC. From its first airing on 24 April 1957, it is the
longest running television programme with the same presenter, the
monocled Sir Patrick Moore."

"In July 2004, Patrick Moore was unable to make the broadcast due to a
severe bout of Salmonellosis. He was replaced for this one occasion by
the cosmologist Chris Lintott of University College London, but
returned for the August programme."

You can watch episodes online at this site:

June 2006

"The biggest and most powerful explosions in the Universe are gamma
ray bursts. With the launch of the spacecraft SWIFT, scientists now
realise these exotic phenomena are far more varied than first
suspected. Patrick Moore finds out about the biggest bangs since the
'Big' one, while Chris Lintott tracks down the supernovae hunters."

By Sir Patrick Moore

In April 1957, I presented the very first 'Sky at Night' programme. We
were ushered in by a comet: Arend-Roland, which alas we will never see
again because it has long since passed out of our range and is leaving
the Solar System permanently. At that time I had no idea how long the
programme would survive, but I do sincerely believe that it has played
a part in promoting science."

I hope that you find this information useful.-jdb-ga

Request for Answer Clarification by mongolia-ga on 25 Jul 2006 13:55 PDT
Dear JDB

Interesting Answer and i am going to put a spanner in the works

My question does refer to 1957 when the program started and not 2004.
(I was aware that Chris Lintott had hosted one program more recently)

I was going through some of the links from your WIKIPEDIA link I came across
this sentence
"It so happened that in 1957, Paul Johnstone, one of the BBC's senior
producers, came across Sun, Myths and Men, dealing with various
aspects of astronomy. Paul - who was not an astronomer but an
archaeologist - had been looking out for someone to present a monthly
astronomical programme, and he asked me to go and see him. After we
had worked it out, the BBC said that they would put out the programme
once every four weeks for three months, and see how it was received.
Well - we are still going"

It was in fact an article written by Paul Johnstone that had prompted
me to pose this question. As the producer who started the program he
describes how
a prior tenent had left a book call "Sun ,Myths and Men" in his new
London flat. Having read the book he thought this was an excellent
subject for
the BBC (and of course television would still have been in its infancy then)

He does go on to say (I think!  ?"?) that there were one or more early
programs which did not work out.

However someone had then mentioned to him the name of Patrick Moore
(Who was also the author of "Sun,Myths and Men")
He of course contacted Patrick Moore and the rest is history

The Wikipedia does quote Patrick Moore as saying he presented the first program.

Now of course who am I to contradict a legend like Patrick Moore.

But that is exactly what I am going to do.

And so here is your challenge :-) In the best tradition of Woodward
and Bernstein can you find two other sources independent of Patrick
Moore who can
confirm that Patrick and only Patrick presented all the early editions of the 
Sky at Night?


Clarification of Answer by jdb-ga on 25 Jul 2006 17:59 PDT
Hello Mongolia, 

Yes, there are many reliable sources that also report that the single
2004 program was the only one Moore missed presenting:


BBC News
Tuesday, 6 July, 2004
The Sky At Night's space generation  
By Darryl Chamberlain 
BBC News Online entertainment staff  
"Sir Patrick, 81, missed the programme he has presented continuously
for the last 47 years on Sunday after being struck down with suspected
food poisoning.

It is the first programme he has missed since the series began..."


Internet Movie Database
Trivia for "The Sky at Night" 

"Sir Patrick Moore missed presenting an edition of the programme for
the first time on Sunday, 4 July 2004 after contracting salmonella
from a duck egg."


This is Google's cache of
Salmonella - 'I nearly died'- Moore 

"Sir Patrick, 81, who has presented the BBC's monthly Sky at Night
programme since 1957, was forced to miss his show on Sunday evening
for the first time because of the illness."


Universe Today
A Brief Interview With Sir Patrick Moore
Mon, 15 Nov 2004 

"TV host Sir Patrick Moore has popularized astronomy for almost half a
century in the United Kingdom and around the world by presenting his
monthly Sky at Night program without a break - a slight episode of
food-poisoning earlier this year that meant Patrick missed a program,
but he made a full recovery."


Independent, The (London),  Jul 6, 2004  by Danielle Demetriou
"Patrick Moore tells of close encounter with death"

"SIR PATRICK Moore, the astronomer, spoke yesterday of how he nearly
died from a bout of food poisoning that caused him to miss his
television show for the first time in 47 years...The presenter said he
was determined not to miss another show. "It was the first time in 47
years that I missed it," he said."


I hope this is helpful. jdb-ga
mongolia-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Well I guess I am not going to squeeze anything more out of this one.
It would be nice to hear from one or more of the people involved in
the creation of the program.

But alas as that pre-dates the internet, it ain't going to hapeen:-)

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