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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Sir Patrick hit by food poisoning
Sir Patrick Moore
The astronomer thinks he caught the infection from an egg
TV astronomer Sir Patrick Moore missed presenting his Sky At Night programme for the first time in 47 years - after being struck by food poisoning.

Sir Patrick, 81, who has presented the BBC show since 1957, suspected he became ill after eating a duck egg at his West Sussex home.

He was treated in hospital at Chichester for a salmonella infection on Sunday and is due out on Thursday.

And he told the Independent: "I very, very nearly died; it was quite awful."

I very, very nearly died, it was quite awful - I can't be sure but I believe it was the egg I ate that evening
Sir Patrick Moore, in The Independent
The astronomer, who received a knighthood three years ago and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-serving TV presenter, is expected to leave hospital later this week.

"Patrick had hoped he would be well enough to take part in this month's programme but he hasn't quite made a full recovery," a BBC spokeswoman said.

Sir Patrick Moore and telescope
He won a Bafta award for services to television
"However, he is on the mend and we expect him to be fit for next month's programme."

Sir Patrick told the Independent: "I can't be sure (what caused the illness) but I believe it was the egg I ate that evening.

"I suddenly collapsed and was taken to hospital - it was very serious indeed."

Sir Patrick has won a Bafta award for services to television and has written more than 60 books on astronomy.

He is a self-taught musician, famed for playing the xylophone and composing, and has played cricket for the Lord's Taverners.

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