Sir Patrick Moore on life in the universe: “We cannot be the only instance of a race, we just can’t be.”

In one of his last ever interviews, Sir Patrick Moore spoke to All About Space about alien life, the Solar System and everything. Gone but not forgotten, he will be remembered for making space and astronomy accessible for everyone.


Sir Patrick Moore sadly passed away in the afternoon of 9th December 2012 at the age of 89. Our deepest condolences go out to his friends and family. The following is an extract from our full interview with him in issue 4 of All About Space magazine.

Sir Patrick Moore spent decades observing the Solar System, and there were many things out there that interested him. “I’m fascinated by Saturn, and the lakes of Titan are very interesting. And also the Curiosity probe is on Mars, but whether it’ll find life we don’t know. If life can exist anywhere then it will, sooner or later.

“I do [think life is out there]. In our Milky Way alone there are 100,000 million stars, and that’s just one galaxy. There are many others, and the amount of stars is incredibly large. We cannot be the only instance of a race, we just can’t be. And there are probably races far more intelligent than we are. We can’t get to them but they might get to us.” Sir Patrick quickly added, laughing: “But flying saucers, no!”

Our Solar System is full of wonders, many of which Sir Patrick had seen with his own eyes through a telescope. He thought there were plenty of other places we should be looking to explore. “[Saturn’s moon] Titan, yes, and maybe the underground seas of [Jupiter’s moon] Europa, and [Jupiter’s moon] Callisto. Saturn’s Iapetus is also a weird world. It has a huge equatorial ridge, it’s weird. I would rather like to go there, but on a return ticket!” But where would Sir Patrick most liked to have to visited himself? “I’ve got to say Mars.”

Our Senior Staff Writer Jonathan O'Callaghan had the chance to sit down and chat with Sir Patrick in August 2012.

On the subject of exploration and finding life, Sir Patrick was optimistic if a little sad that he might not be around to see the next wave of discoveries. “We could [find life in the lakes of Titan], there may well be something that looks like life, but I’m [almost] 90. They won’t find life in my lifetime, but in yours certainly. What would be ambitious would be to land on Europa, drill through the ice underground, and see what’s underneath. What will be there, I’m not too sure.”

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