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Australia’s Beloved ‘Space Gandalf’ Astronomer Passes Away at 62

Greg Quicke, an Australian astronomer who gained fame on the BBC’s Stargazing Live alongside Professor Brian Cox, has passed away at the age of 62.

Quicke, from Broome, 2,000km (1,240 miles) north of Perth, was affectionately known as “Space Gandalf” for his distinctive white beard. He became a beloved figure during the 2017 Stargazing Live Australia series, where he complemented Professor Cox’s role as a theoretical particle physicist with his practical astronomy insights. One notable segment featured Quicke explaining why the night sky appears different in Australia compared to the UK.

Quicke’s media career extended beyond Stargazing Live. He hosted a 10-part series on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) called A Stargazer’s Guide to the Cosmos and authored books such as Is The Moon Upside Down? and Earth Turning Consciousness. Additionally, he was a renowned tour guide, offering “astro tours” in his hometown. Over 28 years, he estimated that around 100,000 people participated in these tours, including a BBC producer who brought him into the global spotlight.

Professor Brian Cox expressed his sadness over Quicke’s passing, saying on X, “I love what he wrote on seeing the solar eclipse in 2023. ‘My body spent, my heart full, I crash into a deep eclipse-fuelled communion with the other worlds’. I hope that’s where he is now.”

Quicke was diagnosed with cancer in 2023. A post on his website, published before his death, announced the cancellation of the 2024 stargazing season due to “cosmic, physical, and other worldly challenges.”

Tributes have poured in from those who attended his tours and admired his work. Chris Ross from Sydney described his tour experience as “a cherished memory.” Western Australian journalist Sam Tomlin praised Quicke as “one of the great scientific communicators of the modern era” on X. Destination Broome, a local tourism organization, lauded him as “a rare breed of nothing but good vibes” who made Broome a better place.

Quicke, a self-taught astronomer, had a passion for helping people understand the night sky. In a 2017 interview with the ABC, he shared his perspective: “You think about astronomy and often it’s presented as stuff that’s out there. But my take on it is that we’re on a planet. We’re moving through space. These are things I can take out of your head and I can put them at your feet.”

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