sad to hear about the death of sir patrick moore - although it was always a surprise to find that he was still alive, as he seemed to have been old for most of his life. I have a couple of 1970s books by him:
but moore did not inspire my childhood interest in astronomy. 'the sky at night' was on long after my bedtime, his books were too grown-up and i remember him mostly as an eccentric commentator on the bbc's apollo programmes.
no, my interest had already been sparked by the ladybird book of the night sky [1965 edition]. these scans are from my original, now very tatty, copy. the 'stars' book blogged about previously was a couple of years later when i was ready for something more complex - and is a better book. but i learnt my first constellations from the ladybird book, and i still have these illustrations in mind whenever i see the new moon with earthshine, or venus and mercury at sunrise or sunset.
'the night sky' offers careful realism grounded in a child's suburban environment, and yet opening out into science and wonder. it's not gimmicky or cartoony, or tied to merchandise or a tv series. i hope there are still books like this out there, because what you give a child at 5 or 6 can haunt its imagination for the rest of its life.