Obituary: Leading science communicator Peter Pockley

22 August
Image: Peter Pockley was a versatile and respected science communicator. (Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle)
Image: Peter Pockley was a versatile and respected science communicator. (Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle)

The man known as the on-air commentator for the Apollo missions, most notably, the Apollo 11 moon walk in 1969, Peter Pockley has died in Sydney.

After a career in science journalism and communication spanning several decades Peter, who pioneered science broadcasting in Australia, died leaving a lasting legacy.

Peter was the first full-time science reporter and producer at the ABC to come with a background in science and was responsible for the establishment of the Science Unit which continues today.

He also established a number of science related programs including Insight, now known as Ockham’s Razor, and The World Tomorrow, predecessor of The Science Show.

After leaving the ABC in 1973, Pockley was a columnist for The Sun-Herald, and a freelance contributor to Nature, Search, and Australasian Science. He ran science journalism courses at The University of Technology Sydney and received commendation for his lifetime’s work from institutions within Australia and beyond.

As well as being an accomplished journalist Peter was also a great ambassador for science funding and science communication across Australia. 

He was always well informed, and Australian scientists owe him a great deal for his relentless questioning of politicians and policy-makers in the sciences.  While many reporters were focused on funding for transport, health and defence, among other areas, Peter spent many years pouring over science and research funding figures during the annual federal budget announcements.
 
Peter was passionate about science communication and flew the flag for Australian science in international circles, at AAAS meetings in the US and BA meetings in England.

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