It's been a tough year for astronomers (even amateur ones like myself), with the passing of two great heroes - Neil Armstrong, and now Sir Patrick Moore.
Moore got himself into astronomy at the age of 6 - he chanced upon a book about the solar system, and kick-started a life-long passion.
I used to present shows in the Glasgow Science Centre's Planetarium - and Moore was a massive influence on those shows. His jovial, excited manner about all aspects of the field was infectious - he knew that he wasn't just looking at pretty, twinkling lights, but at primal forces of nature - huge explosions, beyond all human scope, the building blocks of the entire universe (all matter, from the lowliest hydrogen atom to the most complicated elements, was at some point passed through a star; without them, complex life couldn't exist), givers of life and destroyers of worlds.
Fair enough, he was also a xenophobic, un-PC, crotchety old bastard (quoted as saying "the only good Kraut is a dead Kraut" not but a few years ago), but his work in the science of astronomy, and ensuring it was passed on the the masses (The Sky At Night ran for 55 years, and he only missed presenting one show, because he had food poisoning) was worth more than a few poorly-chosen world views.
One again this year, I'm going out to look at the stars. I hope you'll join me.