Australia’s ‘Space Gandalf’ astronomer dies aged 62


An Australian astronomer who appeared on the BBC’s Stargazing Live alongside Professor Brian Cox, has died aged 62.

Greg Quicke from Broome, 2,000km (1,240 miles) north of Perth, was also known as “Space Gandalf” for his distinctive white beard.

In the 2017 Stargazing Live Australia series he played the practical astronomer to Professor Cox’s theoretical particle physicist.

The series featured a report from Mr Quicke on why the night sky looks different in Australia compared to the UK.

His media career also included a 10-part series on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) called A Stargazers Guide to the Cosmos and books including Is The Moon Upside Down? and Earth Turning Consciousness.

Mr Quicke was also a renowned tour guide, running “astro tours” in his home town.

He estimated that across 28 years there had been around 100,000 participants “including a BBC producer… who plucked me from the bush and onto the world stage”.

Several people who have attended his tours have been paying tribute on social media, including Chris Ross of Sydney, who described it as “a cherished memory”.

Western Australian journalist Sam Tomlin wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Quicke was “one of the great scientific communicators of the modern era and a Broome icon”.

Mr Quicke had been diagnosed with cancer in 2023.

A post on his website, published before his death, says: “Due to some cosmic, physical and other worldly challenges our 2024 stargazing season is unavailable, closed, shut, not happening and not happening.”

The self-taught astronomer often told of his love of helping people get a greater understanding of the night sky.

Speaking to the ABC in 2017, he said: “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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