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It Came from Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore Paperback – 5 Aug 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 684 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2013 edition (5 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3319006088
  • ISBN-13: 978-3319006086
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

To British television viewers, the name ‘Patrick Moore’ has been synonymous with Astronomy and Space Travel since he first appeared on The Sky at Night in 1957. To amateur astronomers he has been a source of inspiration, joy, humour and even an eccentric role model since that time. Most people know that his 55 years of presenting The Sky at Night is a world record, but what was he really like in person?  What did he do away from the TV cameras, in his observatory, and within the British Astronomical Association, the organisation that inspired him as a youngster? Also, precisely what did he do during the War Years, a subject that has always been shrouded in mystery? Martin Mobberley, a friend of Patrick Moore’s for 30 years, and a former President of the British Astronomical Association, has spent ten years exhaustively researching Patrick’s real life away from the TV cameras. His childhood, RAF service, tireless voluntary work for astronomy and charity and his endless book writing are all examined in detail. His astronomical observations are also examined in unprecedented detail, along with the battles he fought along the way and his hatred of bureaucracy and political correctness. No fan of Sir Patrick Moore can possibly live without this work on their bookshelf!

About the Author

Martin Mobberley holds a BSc in Electronic Engineering from Brunel University and worked as an electronics/software engineer for Marconi for 22 years. He is the author of eight practical astronomy books for Springer, as well as three small children’s space books with Top That! Publishing. He has authored over 300 articles for Astronomy Now, The Journal of the British Astronomical Association, BBC Sky at Night and various other publications. He is the author of the Comet, Eclipse and Minor Planet sections of Macmillan’s ‘Patrick Moore Yearbook of Astronomy’ and the former president of the British Astronomical Association (BAA). Martin was the BAA Goodacre Medal winner of 2000 and appeared as a guest on Patrick Moore’s Sky at Night TV program a total of ten times. He was a personal friend of Sir Patrick Moore for 30 years.

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Anslow on 22 Aug. 2013
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What a magnificent biography! Nothing turgid here. Martin Mobberley has written a "warts and all" life of one of our greatest citizens, one who graced our screens and whose works lined our library shelves for over half a century. It was always going to be difficult to balance the private life of an individual with that persona known to millions. However, as Martin accurately informs us in his biography, Patrick's life was an open book. He was the most generous of human beings, whilst never concealing his beliefs and attitudes. Be prepared for some revelations,some of which may not be flavour of the moment, but at the end of this read, Patrick is still the Patrick we loved over the years. Accurate and thoughtful revelations do not damage a reputation built on such a secure footing. Just take in what Patrick did for charities over the years. The author mentions them throughout the book. Also, Patrick's outstanding generosity, even to complete strangers, rises to the surface so often during the story of his life.

Martins's wonderful book is the result of over a decade of careful research, during which time he managed to interview many of those whose lives were touched in some way by Patrick. I know, I was one of them. Patrick for me was a hero of the first magnitude. His generosity was legendary and his influence far greater than he could ever have known. Martin's reports are always humorous, when appropriate, and as far as I can tell, they ring true with the Patrick known to so many.

The book is nicely produced, but why there is not a hardback option I cannot fathom. It contains some good photographs, covering the decades of Patrick's life very well. The front cover illustration is also well chosen. It captures Patrick's presence so perfectly.
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I've read a lot of astronomers biographies and autobiographies over the years, including Sir Patrick's own '80 Not Out' (a good read, but with huge
gaps). But this enormous book by Mobberley blows them all away in terms of un-putdown-ability. The Preface says he spent more than a decade writing it and I don't doubt it. As others have noted, the attention to detail is extraordinary and even the list of quotes at the start is worth the
purchase price alone. Although it is a warts and all book I came away with the impression that the author may have been Patrick's greatest fan.
No-one could possibly write such an entertaining doorstopper unless it was a labour of love. As a fan of The Last of the Summer Wine I could
understand Mobberley's comparison of Foggy Dewhirst's yarns with Moore's as being both accurate and hilarious.I could also identify with loving
Patrick's bad points as much as his good points. Many readers will be amazed at learning of Moore's generosity towards his fans and friends.
Famous though he was, it appears his front door was always open to fans, young and old, and everyone left with a great memory and some free gifts (books, a look through the telescopes or, with adults, free booze....as much as they could drink). I'm already reading Mobberley's sequel
'Return to the Far Side of Planet Moore' and loving it just as much. I am somewhat amazed this book has not received an award or at least greater
recognition in the media, but then I suppose you have to already be famous to get that sort of publicity. I was sad to come to the end of this book,
but ecstatic to read that Mobberley had written a sequel, to satisfy demand for 'more about Moore'.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mike F on 3 Sept. 2013
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I'm sure that there will be several biographies of Sir Patrick Moore, the long-time presenter of the BBC's Sky at Night programme, who died in December 2012. Martin Mobberley is first off the mark with "It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore" and I'm pleased to say Martin's book stakes a good claim to be the definitive volume. Martin, an ex-president of the British Astronomical Association, was a long-time friend of Sir Patrick, and a fellow lunar observer. There are few people better qualified to assess Patrick's legacy in the amateur astronomical community.

But the real strength of the book is that Martin has cut through the mythology which has built up around a very public figure. Patrick was a great raconteur, never short of a story, and over the years the tales he told of his earlier life have grown; he was also mischievous and not above creating fictitious alter-egos. Many of his stories - to take one example, Patrick accompanying on the piano as Einstein played the violin - were repeated uncritically in his obituaries. Martin carefully examines the claims one-by-one and debunks the myths; and there were a lot of them. It may be that Martin has unfairly dismissed a true story here or there, but I'd be surprised if that happened often.

This book is not a hagiography, but nor is it in any way a hatchet job. Patrick was a larger-than-life character who held some extreme views (verging on racism and misogyny) and could bear grudges for decades; but he was also a charming, gregarious and generous man who was unstinting in his help for his fellow astronomers, especially beginners and youngsters. Above all he was an observer, who enjoyed the company of other observers.
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