Friday, 30 July 2021

That Cooke is still in Mauritius


On the afternoon of November 14th 1907 a transit of Mercury was observed from Mauritius using a 6 inch equatorial by Thomas Cooke & Sons York with a diagonal eyepiece power 80. I believe this was the same 6 inch Cooke that was used to observe the Transit of Venus in 1874.

The afternoon of the transit was cloudy but the Sun emerged from behind the clouds one minute before the internal contact at ingress. The Sun’s limb was boiling considerably; the definition of the limb was bad, but the spots at the centre and near the limb good.

Mercury appeared as a clear cut black disc, perfectly circular, with no white spot or fringe. No flashing across of cusps was detected.

Almost immediately after internal contact at ingress the Sun became obscured, and was not visible again until about 15 minutes before internal contact at egress. A careful watch was then made for any distortion, white spot, or disc, but none could be detected in the equatorial.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

A Cooke in Mauritius


Abridged from the Times January 9th 1875

The further news which we have received from the Mauritius is much more hopeful than that telegraphed by Lord Lindsay, for it includes an account of the doings of Mr Meldrum, the director of the Government Observatory in that island.

Mr Meldrum having only a few weeks before the transit of Venus been provided with a perfect telescope of six inches aperture by Thomas Cooke & Sons, York has been fortunate enough to obtain an observation of the ingress although both Lord Lindsay and the German party were prevented from doing this bu the cloudy state of the sky. But although Mr Meldrum obtained the two interior contact5s, clouds and haze were at intervals passing over the Sun, which, in fact, was obscuring during the greater part of the transit, passing showers of rain not being wanting to harass the observers.

At times beautiful definitions of the planet were observed, especially soon after the first interior contact. Then there was a long period of obscuration, after which, most fortunately, the Sun shone out for the second interior contact. A few minutes before the last interior contact the Sun was again obscured, wnad when the clouds passed away the transit was over.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

A Cooke in Poland


In Warsaw in 1898 an observatory was established in an observatory a short distance north west of the university there. The observatory had originally belonged to the Polish amateur astronomer Jan Walery Jedrzejewicz (1835-1887) at Plonsk in central Poland.

Among the equipment in the observatory was a 5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope. Among the objects that Jedrzejewicz observed were double stars, sunspots, lunar occultations and the positions of 16 comets.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Was a Cooke telescope used to discover the first Pup star?


In January 1862 Sirius B or the Pup was discovered by Alvan Clark in America testing an 18.5 inch refractor.

There is however a mystery because on January 10th 1856 Joseph Barclay discovered a small star within the blaze of light from alpha Canis Minoris or Procyon using a Thomas Cooke & Sons 7.5 inch telescope. Procyon is the small dog star,  The star was described as being of magnitude 10.5 and precedes Procyon by 3 or 4 seconds of time.

Normally the discovery of Procyon B is given as being made by J M Schaeberle using the 36 inch refractor at Lick Observatory in California in 1896.

However another twist in the story is that in 1860 Barclay replaced his 7.5 inch Cooke telescope with a 10 inch Cooke telescope which was used by Herman Romberg until 1863 and he states that he also observed this companion star to Procyon.

So was a Cooke telescope used to discover Procyon B? 

Monday, 26 July 2021

The Astronomy Show


The Astronomy Show

Join me, Martin Lunn tonight and every Monday evening from 7.00 pm-9.00 pm on the Astronomy Show, I will take my weekly look at the night sky and look at all the latest news in astronomy. There will be the astronomical anniversaries this week plus the A-Z of Constellations and the Messier Marathon.

The Astronomy Show every Monday evening only on Drystone Radio 102 and 103.5 FM the show can be heard live on line at and the show can be heard later on the Drystone Radio Podcast.

The Travels of a 9 inch Cooke Telescope


In the Carter Observatory in Wellington New Zealand is a 9.75 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope that has a wonderful history.

It was originally made for Edward Crossley of Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1867 as a 9.3 inch telescope, it was used extensively by Crossley and his assistant Joseph Gledhill, with important observations of Mars and Jupiter being made. The 9.3 inch was also used in double star measurements and lead to be of the most important early catalogues on double stars by Crossley, Gledhill and James Wilson of Rugby.

The 9.3 inch Cooke in Halifax

In 1896 a new photo visual lens was place in the telescope tube, it was slightly small at 9 inches. On the death of Crossley in 1905 and the retirement of Gledhill the telescope was sold to the Rev David Kennedy on the north island of New Zealand at Meeanee, where an observatory was opened in 1907.

By 1924 the telescope had been sold again to the Wellington City Council and was installed in a tin shed rather than a proper observatory due to a lack of money.

However a local farmer and business man Charles Rooking Carter left in his will in 1896 a sum of £2240 to build an observatory. The observatory was built in Wellington and opened in December 1941, however due to the war very little happened until 1945.

Since then the Cooke telescope has been extensively used and was retired from research work in 1971. In 1975 it was discovered that the chemicals inside the lens were unstable and over time would damage the lens. In 2001 a new lens this time 9.75 inches was installed.

The 9.75 inch Cooke in Wellington

Today the telescope is still used for public open evenings and is a testament to the telescopes built be Thomas Cooke that a telescope he made in 1867 is still working today.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

The Atkinson Observatory Cooke Telescope


Arthur Samuel Atkinson was born in Hurworth, Durham in 1833 and moved to New Zealand in 1853. He fought during the Taranaki war in 1860 and eventually he entered the legal profession but had a great love of astronomy.

In 1882 he was asked by the Royal Society of London to be an official observer of the Transit of Venus. To do this he obtained a 5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope which I believe he purchased second hand. He also used it to observe the total eclipse of the Sun in 1885.

A S Atkinison and the 5 inch Cooke

The telescope was housed in an observatory in Nelson which is on the south island of New Zealand and was originally called the Atkinson Observatory. In 1982 a newer building was opened and in 2008 the observatory was renamed the Cawthron Atkinson Observatory after the wealthy benefactor Thomas Cawthron.

The Cooke 5 inch telescope was officially retired from active use in 2017 and was placed in a new Cawthron Trust Institute building for people to look at. The Cooke was replaced by a celestron 14 inch telescope.