Friday, 5 March 2021

James Nasmyth and his Cooke


James Nasmyth and his Cooke

1808-1890 Scottish engineer, philosopher and inventor of the Steam Hammer was also very interested in astronomy and when he retired from business in 1856 he moved to Penshurst in Kent to follow his interest in astronomy.

8 inch Cooke and Sons Telescope

In 1858 he purchased an 8 inch Cooke and Sons of York telescope which was complete in every respect possible. The telescope cost £600. Today that would be £75, 049!!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Eclipse of the Moon seen through a Cooke in Brighton in 1856


Eclipse of the Moon seen through a Cooke in Brighton in 1856

Brighton Gazette Thursday 16th October 1856


Perhaps the following description of the beautiful lunar eclipse that took place on Monday, as seen from Howell’s observatory, at Hove, may not be uninteresting to some of your readers.

The moon was shinning with intense brightness over the sea, in a cloudless sky, S. E by S., and at an elevation of about 45 degrees, when, punctual to the predicted time, 9h. 21m., a slight diminution of light was evident on the eastern limb of our satellite, like a very faint wash of Indian ink, and after little a while she advanced in her easterly course, dipping into the earth’s shadow, this latter appeared like a small dent in the moon’s side, gradually growing deeper and wider, until a large piece seemed to have been actually eaten away. At this time the indented part could not he distinguished from the surrounding ebon sky, but about half an hour from the commencement, carefully looking through Howell’s equatorial for the obscured portion, I could plainly distinguish it, clearly defined by a sharp edge and of a delicate roseate hue, and which, on my drawing their attention to it, was also seen by Captain Shay and the other gentleman present. As the eclipse proceeded and more of the moon’s disc became covered by the earth s umbra, the red color grew much stronger, pervading, though with unequal intensity, the whole portion of the disc on which the shadow was advancing like a smoky haze, with a very flat curved outline. In advance of the curved and coppery umbra a variable band of bluish tint gradually came into view, sometimes very light, which continued until the period of deepest immersion (l1h. 54m.), when a very small portion of the moon’s upper limb remained visible, and of a yellowish green colour. For a quarter of an hour the moon remained almost entirely buried in the earth’s shadow, but still visible, the larger portion being of coppery glow, but towards the upper limb dissolving into orange, this again into blue, and the very small segment at the top into yellowish green. The appearance of the moon was now very peculiar, like a transparent body crossed by coloured zones, parallel to our horizon.

As time proceeded, the moon was seen slowly rising above the shadow (at one time looking like a crescent with its horns turned downward), and as more of the illumined surface came into view the colours gradually faded away, in reverse order, until the finally disappeared at 27 minutes after midnight, at the south-west edge of the disc, the obscuration having lasted just three hours six minutes. The obscuration of the moon made a very perceptible difference to the brilliancy of Jupiter, situated about to the west, and also to that of the stars which shone brightly all around, and two small ones within 15 degrees of the Moon itself. For a short time after eleven o’clock few clouds passed over the moon, and then the sky remained clear again to the end.

A total eclipse of the moon occurred some years ago, when, contrary to the expectation of several of us who were observing it, the moon’s disc remained visible as an ill-defined circle of coppery red, even when completely buried in the earth’s shadow. Remembering this made me desirous of watching the eclipse of last night, to see whether any similar phenomena would be displayed during a partial obscuration, and which I expected, because the eclipse was so nearly total. The appearances presented last night could be seen with the naked eye; but through the telescope we could also see the whole surface of the moon, and plainly distinguish the various spots, lines, and circular ranges of mountains so well known to astronomers.

The cause of the singular and beautiful appearances witnessed by last night was the refraction and decomposition of the sun’s light in passing through the earth’s atmosphere; but those desirous of investigating the subject will find it fully explained, on mathematical principles, in Herschell’s Outlines of Astronomy, sections 421, 422, 423, and 425. BARCLAY PHILLIPS. 75, Lansdowne Place, Brighton,

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The Earliest Thomas Cooke Advert I have Found So Far

 The Earliest Thomas Cooke Advert I Have Found So Far

Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 4th March 1837


Mathematical and Philosophical Instruments made and repaired on reasonable Terms.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

A Cooke finds a Moon of Jupiter in the Wrong Place


A Cooke finds a Moon of Jupiter in the Wrong Place.

The Rev R J Gould at Mortimer Vicarage in Reading using a 5 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons of York telescope and was observing Jupiter on October 7th 1868 at 11h and 43 mins when he noticed an error in the Nautical Almanac on page 480.

It stated that the 3rd satellite will be on the west side of its primary in company with the 2nd and 4th; The fact was that it was on the east side with satellite number 1. The places of 2 and 4 were right enough but number 3 was certainly not so.

Gould goes on to say that we have no right to expect even the Nautical almanac to be absolutely free from errors and misprints, but I should like to know whether others have observed this or whether it can be shown to have been a mistake on the part of myself.

During the following days several observers confirmed Gould’s observations that the satellite was in the wrong place.

Monday, 1 March 2021

A Remarkable Meteor seen from York


A remarkable Meteor seen from York

J. Edmund Clark at York described a meteor he saw on March 1st 1896 at 8h and 31 mins, it travelled from beta to alpha Canis Minoris. The meteor lasted for 6.5 seconds. Other observations from observers suggest that the meteor came from a radiant point of 18 degrees and with a declination of +5, this is in the constellation of Pisces. This is a position where no meteor shower is known to exist.

Today I suspect this meteor would be classified as a sporadic.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Possible TLP seen with a 4 inch Cooke by TGE Elger


Possible TLP seen with 4 inch Cooke by T G E Elger

TLP’s or Transient Lunar Phenomenon are bright patches which can be seen on the surface of the Moon. They are caused by gas escaping through cracks on the surface of the Moon. The term Transient Lunar Phenomenon seems to have been first used by the TV astronomer Patrick Moore.

On the 9th April 1867 TGE Elger from Bedford using a Thomas Cooke and Sons of York 4 inch telescope was waiting for the occultation by the Moon of the star 150 Tauri when a bright spot as bright as a 7th magnitude star appeared in the crater Aristarchus.

The spot was seen from 7h 30 min to about 8h and 15 min and it became much fainter. At 9h it was scarcely visible through the 4 inch telescope. Elger used powers of 75 and 115 on his Cooke telescope.

Could this be another example of an early observation of a TLP?

Friday, 26 February 2021

The William Coleman Cooke telescope becomes the Rev TER Phillips Cooke telescope


The William Coleman Cooke telescope becomes the Rev TER Phillips Cooke telescope

William Coleman 1824-1911 was the owner of Solton Manor near Dover, he had a strong interest in astronomy. He erected at his residence The Shruberry, Buckland near Dover an observatory housing an 8 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons of York telescope. His main interest was in double stars.

Cooke 8 inch

He had work published in the Royal Astronomical Society Memoirs vol Iiii containing the measurement of his double stars made in the years between 1893-1896 using the 8 inch telescope. The list included 161 double stars. Another list published I the Memoirs vol Iiv for the years 1897-1899 looked at 131 double stars. Again using the 8 inch telescope.

Following William Coleman’s death in 1911 his estate which was worth over £40,000 left numerous bequests including that the Thomas Cooke and Sons 8 inch telescope and observatory were offered to the Royal Astronomical Society who then leased them to the Rev T.E.R .Phillips who then re erected them at Ashstead in Surry. The telescope and original observatory would be moved again in 1916 when Phillips became rector of Headley also in Surrey. Phillip’s work on the planets and in particular Jupiter and Mars using the 8 inch Cooke was particularly important.

TER Phillpis with Coleman 8 inch Cooke and Coleman Observatory

William Coleman also had a smaller 4 inch Cooke and Sons telescope plus other accessories

which were sold by auction after his death.