Saturday, 15 May 2021

Telescope lost in storm at Harrogate


Leeds Mercury Saturday 12th January 1839

On Monday last this most fashionable watering place was visited by the most destructive storm ever remembered by the oldest inhabitant. About two o’clock in the morning the wind being at that time in the south-west commenced blowing a perfect hurricane and continued up to noon.

The churches of high and low Harrogate, the Methodist Chapel and the three promenade room have all suffered amidst the general devastation.

A very valuable telescope was blown from the top of the observatory, and has not yet been found.

Friday, 14 May 2021

A Cooke for sale in Leeds


Leeds Mercury Thursday 13th March 1879

A Splendid Telescope for Sale by Cooke of York, object glass 4.5 inches diameter; equatorial bearings, micrometer &c, in large circular house with moveable top. Apply Anthony Robinson 27 Upperhead- row, Leeds

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Comet Nicolett Pons 1821 seen from Yorkshire


Leeds Intelligencer Monday 5th March 1821

The Comet. The new comet Observatory, Gosport, Feb. 24.

A comet made its appearance here last evening at 35 minutes past six o'clock, within two or three degrees of Algenib, the last star in the wing of Pegasus. It is 32 degrees to the east of the sun, and sets with Saturn soon after eight o'clock, about W. N. W. but is 18.5 degrees to the north of that planet. Its small light nucleus was surrounded by a diffused coma, three fourths of a degree in diameter by the sextant, and its perpendicular tail, was nearly 4 degrees in length when the coruscations were most vivid, through the upper part of which a small star of the sixth magnitude was perceived by the help of a telescope. This is unquestionably the same comet that Seigneur Pons, Astronomer of the Ductless of Lucca, discovered in the constellation Pegasus, in the evening of thee 21st ult., but which, to our knowledge, has not yet been seen by the English astronomers.

Leeds Intelligencer Monday 5th March 1821

The new comet has been seen at Wakefield, and also at Bingley. Its nucleus is exceedingly brilliant; its tail, which is about four degrees in length, appears larger at the beginning than at the extremity. Its apparent motion is very slow; it has barely proceeded two degrees and a half in right ascension and declension from the 21st of January last, to the 22nd of Feb. It sets about eight o'clock in the evening. The most favourable time for seeing it is, therefore, from six to half-past seven o'clock. It is in the West and still in the constellation of Pegasus. We have not yet heard of its having been observed at Leeds.


This was comet Nicolett-Pons (J N Nicolett Royal Observatory Paris and J L Pons Marlia Italy) was discovered on January 21st 1821 near gamma Pegasus, it was at its brightest on March 6th when it was reported at between magnitude 3 to 4.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The telescope left on the train


Sheffield Daily Telegraph Saturday 16th March 1867

Unclaimed Property on Railways

Among the curious things connected with the business of railways are the variety and strange character of the unclaimed property which falls in to the hands of the railways as carriers of passengers and goods.

One person has left a very superior astronomical telescope in mahogany case complete, and it is now unclaimed. Where is its owner and what has he been doing to render himself unconscious of the loss he has sustained? Or has he abandoned the study of astronomy for the more prosaic and common occupations of the earth?

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

A Cooke in Glasgow


A Cooke in Glasgow

Mr Dansken and his Patrickhill Cooke

John Dansken who was born in Glasgow in 1836 was by profession a surveyor and an enthusiastic amateur astronomer who built an observatory at his home in Patrickhill, Glasgow which included a 5 inch telescope by Thomas Cooke of York, there was also a larger 13 inch reflector made by D Hunter of Lanark.

A number of smaller instruments were also housed there including telescopes by Wray and Dollond. |He also had one of the finest astronomical libraries in the West of Scotland. John Dansken died in 1905.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Astronomy Lectures in Pontefract


Leeds Mercury Saturday 24th August 1822

Astronomical Lectures Theatre Pontefract

Mr Goodacre proposes to deliverer a course of FOUR LECTURES on ASTRONOMY at the THEATRE at PONTEFRACT on Friday August 23rd, Monday, the 26th, Wednesday the 28th and Friday 30th at 7.00 o’clock each evening precisely. An introductory lecture comprising the history of astronomical research from the earliest records to the present time, will be delivered on Wednesday 21st, at the same hour. This lecture will be gratis to subscribers and the money paid for admission by non subscribers, will be given without any deduction whatever to the funds of the Pontefract Dispensary.

Terms: for the whole course:- Boxes 10s pit 8s Gallery 6s. To each lecture Box 3s Pit 2s 6d Gallery 2s.

Mr Goodacre is very happy again to visit the West Riding of Yorkshire and he respectfully informs the friends of the Science of the Universe that he proposes to deliver his lecture in every town in this interesting district where accommodation, suitable for the reception of his extensive apparatus, can be obtained, not doubting but that the same liberal patronage, which was last autumn at Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield conferred on his first efforts as a public lecturer, will be again bestowed on his exertions.

Pontefract August 15th 1822

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Mercury seen over Yorkshire

Mercury seen over Yorkshire 

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Saturday 10th March 1906

Mercury Visible

To the Editor of the Yorkshire Post, Sir-

Many of your reader may be interested to know that the planet Mercury was seen just over the horizon at 6.20 this (Thursday) evening here. He was easily visible to the naked eye, yours etc STAR-GAZER

Scarborough March 8th

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Monday 12th March 1906


To the Editor of the Yorkshire Post, Sir- If was STAR GAZER (of Scarborough) himself who saw the planet Mercury at 6.20 Thursday evening last, then I congratulate him upon the performance of the feat. If it was not STAR GAZER then the letter is not quite clear the point—then I congratulate theother fellow." The sun had been 32 minutes, and the planet set about of three quarters of an hour after being glimpsed.

It is enough to make that astronomic giant. Copernicus. turn in his grave. Great astronomer as he was he never had the satisfaction—so the tradition says- of seeing the sparkling planet under any circumstances whatever. But then, did not live at Scarborough.— Yours, etc.. J H ELGIE F .R.A.S. Leeds.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Tuesday13th March 1906


Sir.—Mr. Elgie doubts my having seen Mercury last Thursday at 6.30. If it had been an ordinary occurrence I should not have called attention to it. Let Mr. Elgie imagine the conditions a perfectly clear western horizon, a strong north-west gale having been blowing all day. An observer on the watch for the planet and looking in the right place, a sweep of open country before him.

Jupiter was well visible of course Aldebaran just visible. A and B Arietts not yet so and Mars not yet so. if Iremember rightly.

Can Mr. Elgie name a star in Pisces that I could possibly have mistaken for the planet?

Copernicus did not in Scarborough, quite true. If he had hie would have seen Mercury many times, for I saw him at least half a dozen times last year from the same spot, and you can't mistake his ruddy flash.

I think Sir Robert Ball says first magnitude stars may be seen with the Sun 5 degrees below the horizon. On this occasion I roughly calculate the Sun would be 6 degrees below and Mercury about 7 degrees above. On point, however, not profess to speak with precision. Yours, etc.. STAR-GAZER. Scarborough. March 12.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Wednesday 14th March 1906

Sir,—Mercury was well here to-night (Monday), from 6.15 p.m. to 7.35 p.m., when it became obscured by light clouds. It was of course,by this time nearly set.

I can understand "Star-Gazar," of Scarborough having seen it on Thursday evening last if he had anything of a clear night. After viewing this some what difficult object in the telescope, I read off right and declination circles the telescope and found they corresponded with those given in the Nautical Almanac, allowing a little, of course, for the planet's motion from the epoch, for which the N.A. times are given—which proves that Mercury was the object seen.—Yours, etc..

H. FIELDEN. Member the Leeds Astronomical .Society. 67, Bootham, York.

The Antiques Roadtrip, Thomas Cooke and Me

 The Antiques Roadtrip, Thomas Cooke and Me

I was asked last September to be the guest expert on the telescope maker Thomas Cooke when the Antiques Road Trip visited York.

The programme was filmed under the Covid 19 restrictions in force at the time.

The programme will be shown on BBC1 at 4.30pm on Tuesday 11th May. It wil then be available on catch up.

Standing next to David Harper with my red rain coat. I did not have a BBC umbrella!


Saturday, 8 May 2021

Astronomical Lectures in Leeds in 1810


Leeds Mercury Saturday 22nd September 1810

Theatre Leeds

Mr Llyod has the honour most respectfully to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of Leeds and its Vicinity, that he intends, early as the proper arrangements can be made to give his COURSE. of ASTRONOMICAL LECTURES, illustrated by the :

DIOASTRODOXON, Or Grand Transparent Orrery, Accompanied by tlae CELESTINA.

With all the splendid Scenery, explanatory of the seasons, eclipses , tides and comets as exhibited in London, and the University of Oxford. -The Whole forming the most perspicuous and comprehensive view of the WORKS of the CREATOR in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Lloyd's extensive improvements on the Transparent Orrery, having excited humble Imitations, under the Description of Originals and Descriptions and as no Person whoever read upon a Transparent Orrery was ever the Inventor of one, he feels it his Duty to caution the Public, against being imposed upon by so notorious quackery.

Subscription to the Course, Three Lectures, Nine Shillings, Epitome included – tickets transferable

Subscriptions are received at the Leeds Mercury Office, where may be had an Epitome of the Course . Non- Subscribers Price One Shilling.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Occultation of Saturn seen from Leeds in 1900


 Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer Friday 7th September 1900


To the Editor of The Yorkshire Post. Sir,—

This interesting phenomenon was seen here on Monday, 3rd inst. The disappearance took place at the dark east limb of the moon, and lasted about 80 seconds, the west part of the ring, then the planet, then the east part of ring, being successively hidden. The major axis outer ring measured about 40in. The moon, near meridian, had an altitude of some 15 deg, and was yellowish. Saturn appeared very pale, almost white, in comparison with the moon.

The times of beginning and ending were, approximately, 7h. 12m. 18s., and 71a 13m. 28S, so that the occultation hero occurred earlier than Greenwich, for which place 7h. 16m. was the predicted time for disappearance, and 8h. 11M for reappearance. The reappearance of the planet the moon’s bright west limb was entirely lost in cloud.

The telescope is a 3.25 inch refractor, and I observed with power of 105.—Yours, etc., C. T. WHITMELL, President Leeds Astronomical Society. Leeds. 6th September.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

An Observatory for Harrogate

 An Observatory for Harrogate

Leeds Intelligencer Thursday 22nd January 1829


We are glad to hear of an intended improvement in the neighbourhood of this useful and fashionable watering place. A spirited individual has purchased a plot of land (at a distance of nearly a mile) upon one of the highest situations, an on which he is going to erect a tower, of such height, as to give a view of the East Coast as well as to a great extent in other directions, for the accommodation of visitors.

It is intended to be known by the appellation of the ‘Pannal High Ash Tower’ - being near to a place where a high ash tree grows, in the township of Pannal. The roof we understand will be furnished with one of the best hand telescopes which can be purchased. The tower to be finished by the middle of May.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Lord Rosse 72 inch Telescope

 Lord Rosse 72 in Telescope 

Leeds Intelligencer Saturday 28th November 1840

A magnificent telescope has recently been constructed by Lord Oxmantown in Ireland as gigantic as that of Sir William Herschel , but without any of the imperfections which have rendered the latter useless.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

A Noteable Shoemaker, not Cooke


Sheffield Daily Telegraph Tuesday 4th February 1896


On Sunday morning- there was carried to the grave at Darlington Cemetery Mr. W. H. Harris, who was a working shoemaker, living in a poor neighbourhood, at Hank Top, Darlington. Mr. Harris, who was 54 years old the time his death, was born at Barnard Castle.

Though working hard at his trade, he had attained local celebrity as an astronomer, and maker of telescopes with 9 inch and 12inch mirrors, which he, ground, figured, and silvered. This work required nice mathematical calculations, which he carefully worked out. He had intimate knowledge of optics, botany, astronomy, electricity, etc., and was a good French scholar. Mr. Harris was self-taught.

Monday, 3 May 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.

Comet Trailes 1819


Comet Trailes 1819 

Leeds Intelligencer Monday 12th July 1819


The following communication from Mr. Christie of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, contains probably all that can be yet known of this celestial phenomenon:—• “I first observed the comet," observes Mr. Christie, “last night (Saturday) a minutes before 11 o'clock, and judge that it came to the meridian about 12. Its elevation above the horizon appeared about 10°, and the sun being at the time nearly below, its distance from the sun cannot much exceed 25°.

The night was remarkably light, and the moon uncovered by clouds—circumstances extremely unfavourable to the brilliancy of its appearance; and considering this, I should judge that, under more favourable circumstances, its splendour would be equal to that of any comet upon record—the head viewed with Capella (to the east of it) in brilliancy. The length of the tail, which, when the comet was on the meridian, pointed somewhat to the west of the zenith, extended about 15degrees; and unlike the comet of 1811, it appeared to proceed immediately from the nucleus.

I viewed it for some time through an excellent small reflector, by Watson, and observed, that the nucleus was much denser than that of the former comet, and that there was no separation between it and the coma, but that the body became gradually rarer, and in the upper part expanded into the tail; which appearance may arise from a very dense atmosphere surrounding the nucleus, and reaching to the rarer fluid forming the tail, if there be any distinction between the two fluids, as appears to have been the case with the comet 1811.

I may observe, that this as in all other comets, the appearance to the naked eye is much more striking and brilliant than through telescope. The Comet passed the meridian below the Pole, at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, on Saturday, July 3, about midnight, when its place was determined as follows :

Apparent right ascension 6h. 51m. 56S

North polar distance, corrected for re fraction 43 d 18 m 47.s

Mean time of observation .12h 6m 56s

The Comet was again observed on Monday night (July 5), but not till it had passed the meridian, when the following observations was made :

Apparent right ascension . 7h. 0m 9s

North Polar Distance 43 d 34m 48s

Mean time of observation 12h 36m 04s

This was comet 1819 also known as Trailes comet that was discovered on July 1st 1819 by the German astronomer Johann Georg Trailes. The comet was an easy naked eye object reaching between magnitude 1 to 2.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

The Coats Observatory


The Coats Observatory

At the 1880 Annual meeting of the Paisley Philosophical Institution, it was proposed that the society should purchase an astronomical telescope. Mr Thomas Coats of Ferguslie, then a member of the council with advice from Professor Grant at Glasgow University a 5 inch telescope by Cooke of York was obtained.

Mr Coats provided an observatory with a sum of £2,000. This Coats Observatory would become the oldest public observatory in Scotland. On the 10th September 1883 the observatory was opened to members of the philosophical society and was then opened to the public from Monday 1st October 1883.

The 5 inch Cooke on top of the 10 inch Grubb

Mr Donald McLean one of Professor Grant’s assistants was appointed first curator. Between 1892-1898 additional equipment including a 10 inch telescope by Grubb of Dublin would be added.

The Cooke telescope would be used throughout the 19th ans 20th century in order to promote astronomy. In 1963 the running of the observatory passed from the Paisley Philosophical Society to that of the town council. This placed the observatory under the museum and galleries committee.

At present the Coats observatory is closed and us due to reopen in 2023 as part of the Paisley Museum Re imagined project.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

An Eclipse Observed in Ceylon with a Cooke


An Eclipse observed in Ceylon with a Cooke 

Englishman's Overland Mail Wednesday 27th December 1871

The Eclipse as Observed in Ceylon

The solar eclipse on December 12th 1871 was most favourably observed at all the stations occupied by the scientific party under Mr Lockyer’s direction as well as by Mr Janssen. Important scientific results may be expected to be shortly made known as indicated in the the message from Mr Lockyer.

Here in Colombo the weather during the eventful morning was all that could be desired, but being beyond the line of totality and shadow no special scientific value can be attached to the highly interesting observations made here by several gentlemen.

Our column this time will be unusually full of information respecting the eclipse and the special expeditions sent from home to observe it. About 3.5 inches of rain fell in Colombo between 8 00 pm on the 11th and 5.00 am on the 12th. We add the results of local observations:- the Sun rose obscured by clouds, which cleared off by about 6.30 .The whole surface of the Sun presented the usual strippled broken appearance, with here and there large spots. In the neighbourhood of these spots the strippling was more apparent than over the parts free of spots, but they came out in bold relief on the part of the Sun close to the Moon’s limb. Probably this increase of distinctness was caused by contrast of the black spot &c of the dark limb of the moon. This could not be seen through the 3-inch telescope. Some little time before the greatest obscuration a halo was visible around the sun, which gave place to short bright rays. This latter appearance was probably an ocular deception, as no trace of it was visible through the 4.5-inch telescope under a low power.

At the greatest obscuration no trace of corona was observable through the same instrument, with a solar eyepiece with a power of about 30. This was carefully looked for. The unobscured portion of the sun, about 15-16ths of its disc, was well defined, without appendages of any kind. Towards the time of centrality the diminution of daylight was very conspicuous—going from the open air into the house it was very striking. Standing in the centre of the room, and looking through the open window, the sun-shine outside was of a neutral tint. The crows commenced to assemble on the tree-tops, cawing after their usual fashion, when preparing for their night's rest. The planet Venus, high in the sky, was distinctly visible to the naked eye, and Jupiter, low down in the western horizon, was plainly discernible with the aid of an opera-glass. The thermometer at the commencement of the eclipse indicated 91.5 °F in the sun. At 7-15 it showed a rise of 2.5 degrees and at the greatest phase it had fallen to 84.5°. In the shade it stood at 76 degrees; at 6-45 and at the greatest obscuration at 75° At 9-10, with the full blaze of the then unobscured sun, the thermometer indicated 113 °; in the shade 81°.

Mr. Van Dort, of the Surveyor- General's Department, with the aid of a 3-inch telescope, power 50, made some careful drawings of the different phases of the eclipse. The attempt to take the time of first contact and the ending of the eclipse proved abortive. An ordinary watch was the only time- keeper at hand.

Instruments used in the above observations : Equatorial Telescope by Cooke and Sons, of York, 4.5 inches clear aperture, 66 inches focal length. Telescope by same makers, 3 inches clear aperture, 42 inches focal length, mounted on tripod stand."

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Another Scottish Cooke


Another Scottish Cooke

John Robertson of Coupar Angus 1830-1920 owned a fine Thomas Cooke of York 3 inch refractor telescope. His interest in astronomy began in 1848 when he heard Dr Thomas Dick give a series of astronomical lectures.

He spent many hours observing the sky, including sunspot observations and comets and meteors. He was self educated and he had to fit all his observations of the sky around his work. He was employed by the Caledonian Railway.

He sent many articles to newspapers including the Scotsman and some of the Dundee Daily newspapers. Among the astronomers he correspond with were Sir W.H. M. Christie, Richard A Proctor, Sir Robert Ball and Ralph Copeland.

He was still using the 3 inch Cooke telescope as late as August 1917 to observe sunspots, with his advanced age his daughter had to help move and adjust the telescope.

Monday, 26 April 2021

A Cooke in Peeblesshire


A Cooke in Peeblesshire

Robert Mathison of Innerleithen Peeblesshire observed the Transit of Mercury on May 6th 1878 using a Thomas Cooke of York 4.1 inch telescope.

The transit was seen from the ‘observatory’ no trace of the planet could be seen outside the disk of the Sun. A small group of sunspots were seen on the Sun close to the planet at 4.40 pm.

One point that caught the attention of Mathison was that a bright white point of light which he followed until 5.30 pm when the Sun was covered by clouds. Other observers at this location confirmed the sighting of the bright white spot.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

A Cooke in Whitby


A Cooke in Whitby

There is a 5 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope located in an observatory in the grounds of Whitby Community College which today is Whitby School.

The telescope dates from about 1880/1890 and was used between 1912 until 1932 by Mr John Bruce and the observatory is typical of a late 19th early 20th century design. Today the observatory is known as the Bruce Observatory.

The observatory appeared to be in use until the 1960s by the school physics department. I am not sure when it started to be less used but when I visited the observatory in the mid 1990s both the telescope and observatory needed some attention.

That seems to have been undertaken as the telescope is often used by the Whitby& District Astronomical Society who organise astronomical events there.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Sunspot seen from Thornton in Craven with a Cooke


Sunspot seen from Thornton in Craven with a Cooke

On December 14th 1864 Thomas Wilson of Thornton in Craven using a 4.25 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope observed a solitary spot on the surface of the Sun. He says that in sketching the spot immediately after apparent noon, finding the penumbral outline and radial shading considerably confused and indistinct, especially on the eastern side, my attention was drawn to its surrounding neighbourhood, where I was agreeably surprised by the realisation of the elongated very minute lenticular forms, which have been compared to willow leaves, overlapping the penumbra and, and diffused over the whole surface.

Wilson goes onto say that in making 97 sketches of spots during the last three and a half years, nearly all after taking meridian transits, I never before saw anything beyond the mottled surface, which has been described as parchment, rice grain, flocculent chemical precipitate like appearances &; I have supposed that depending on the state of the air this was beyond the reach of a small telescope such as my 4.25 inch Cook

Monday, 19 April 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.

Friday, 16 April 2021

1868 Transit of Mercury seen from Liverpool with a Cooke


1868 Transit of Mercury seen from Liverpool with a Cooke.

George Williams using a 4.25 inch Cooke & Sons telescope observed the transit of Mercury on November 5th 1868 from 2, Devonshire Road, Prince’s Park, Liverpool.

Williams observed no apparent elongation or pear shape, or black drop at the egress of the planet; but the boiling of the limb, which was considerable, may account for the absence of these appearances.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A Cooke in Sunderland sees the Martian Moons


A Cooke in Sunderland sees the Martian Moons

On December 22nd 1881 John Watson of Sunderland (more accurately Seaham Harbour, which is about 5 miles south of Sunderland) reported seeing two small points of light near Mars using a Thomas Cooke & Sons 12inch refractor. The positions of the moons were determined by using the ephemeris of Mars is indicated where the two satellite should be.

Thomas Cooke & Sons 12 inch telescope

I have little more information regarding either this 12 inch telescope or observations made by it. Although it is mentioned in G F Chambers Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy vol. 2 Oxford 1890 page 297.

Watson had an 8 inch Wray telescope mounted on a metal pillar supplied by Thomas Cooke which he offered for sale in 1880 presumably to make room for the 12 inch Cooke.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Zeta Cancri seen with a Cooke


Zeta Cancri observed with a Cooke

I have only a small number of details regarding J L Stothert of Audley Bath, who had a 6 inch Cooke, I know that zeta Cancer was observed on April 17th 1880.

I assume he died in either late 1880 or early 1881 because in an advertisement in April 1881 the executors of the late J L Stothert are offering an observatory with a 6 inch Cooke for sale.


Monday, 12 April 2021

A Cooke at the London Stock Exchange


A Cooke at the London Stock Exchange

In April 1865 William Bolger Gibbs (1834-1925) of Talford Road, Peckham purchased a 4 inch telescope from Thomas Cooke & Sons York, a little later he purchased a 5.5 inch refractor which he housed in an observatory, I cannot say if this was a Cooke telescope or not.

He was described as the “Father of the London Stock Exchange” but apart from his business he loved science and in particular astronomy.

He was friends with his near neighbour James Buckingham of Walworth who owned the 21 inch refracting telescope.

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.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

The Mount Lookout Observatory

 The Mount Lookout Observatory

A report from an America

American Register Saturday 3rd July 1875

The equatorial telescope 12 inches in diameter, made in Munich for the Lookout observatory in Cincinnati arrived recently and will be placed in position immediately.

Mt Lookout Observatory c1880

My note

The original Cincinnati Observatory was located at a site called Mount Ida which was opened in 1843 with a telescope with a 11 inch lens made in Munich, Bavaria (this was before a unified Germany) by former President Quincy Adams, the mountain was subsequently renamed Mount Adams.

In 1873 due to light pollution this new observatory was built about 5 miles outside of Cincinnati to allow for clearer skies and was called the Mount Lookout Observatory.

In 1904 a 16 inch Alvan Clark telescope would be installed.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Edward Crossley buys a 9.3 inch Cooke Telescope


Edward Crossley buys a 9.3 inch Cooke Telescope

Edward Crossley 1841-1905 ran the massive Crossley Carpet mill in Halifax, he was also an MP for Sowerby in Yorkshire from 1885-1892 and a Lord Mayor of Halifax between 1874-1876 and 1884-1885. He was also a very passionate astronomer and together with his assistant Joseph Gledhil 1837-1906 they would be one of Yorkshire’ s best kept astronomical secrets.

In my talk Hidden Under the Carpet I tell the story of their time spent studying the sky in Halifax. But in this story we are looking at just one part of their story and one telescope. This was the 9.3 inch Thomas Cooke & sons of York Refractor telescope.

The Crossley observatory was first located at Park Road Halifax with the Cooke telescope and later the observatory was moved to Bermerside also in Halifax.

Edward Crossley ordered the 9.3 inch Cooke telescope on April 9th 1867, I know that 9.3 inch is a strange size but we must remember that at this time all the telescopes were made by hand a making an exact 9 inch telescope was always a difficult task.

Due to running his carpet business Crossley was not able to spend to much time following his hobby, astronomy. The serious observing was left to Gledhill. Using the 9.3 inch at the Park Road observatory Gledhill made incredible drawings of Jupiter and Mars. In fact his observations were so good that other astronomers and well known astronomers as well often waited for their observations to be confirmed by Gledhill.

9.3 inch Cooke 

Joseph Gledhill in 1879 after working in collaboration for several years with James Wilson at Rugby School and using the 9.3 inch Cooke produced the first Handbook on double stars. A publication that was ahead of its time as during the 19th century observing double stars was very popular. Today astronomers are realising just how important this book actually was.

Edward Crossley died in 1905 and Joseph Gledhill in 1906, the 9 inch was sold to the Rev David Kennedy of the Marist Seminary (a Catholic seminary for the training of Marist priests, this is where the church does not exist or is not very strong ) at Meeanee on the North Island of New Zealand Opened in 1907.

In 1910 some classic photos of Halleys comet re taken using the 9 inch Crossley telescope. In 1924 the telescope was sold to Wellington City Council in New Zealand where it languished until 1941.

A local farmer, businessman and politician Charles Rooking Carter who when he died in 1896 left a sum of £2,240 to fund an astronomical observatory. The new Carter observatory was opened on December 20th1941, but World War 2 meant that very little happened until 1945. Since then the telescope has seen extensive use including in 1968 an occultation of Neptune by the Moon. It was used for serious research work until 1971. Since this date modern telescopes have been used by astronomers at the Carter Observatory

In 1975 it was discovered that the chemicals in the photovisual glass would become unstable over a period of time and by 2000 it was clear that in its original form the lens was unusable. So in 2001 a new and slightly larger 9.75 inch lens was installed.

Today the Crossley telescope is used for public viewing and education projects. It is a testament to its construction that a telescope made in York in 1867 is still being used in the 21s century 11,500 miles away in New Zealand.,

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Joseph Baxendell and Nova Bootes 1860


Joseph Baxendell and Nova  Bootes 1860

On April 10th and 11th 1860 Joseph Baxendell at Mr Worthington’s observatory at Crumpsall Old Hall in Manchester using a 5 inch refractor, made the only definite observations of this enigmatic object. I do not know if this instrument was a Cooke or not.

He saw the nova at magnitude 9.75, by April 22nd it had fallen to magnitude 12.8, the following night it could not be seen with Mr Worthington’s 13 inch reflector.

Various other astronomers including Friederich Winnecke, Edward Pickering, Ernest Harding and Ernst Zinner searched for the star but without success.

Granting the reality of this object, the nova appears to have had an amplitude of at least 7 magnitudes, and an unusually rapid decline of about a magnitude in 4 days.

This strange star was given the designation of T Bootes

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Photography with a Cooke in Newcastle


Photography with a Cooke in Newcastle

In 1890 Lawrence Richardson of Newcastle on Tyne using a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope undertook some research into astronomical photography using his telescope which was an achromatic. He was not that hopeful of getting really sharp images, the Cooke & Sons photo visual telescope would not be available until he mid 1890s.

Richardson found that he could take a photograph of Orion which would show hundreds of stars and which would take around about an hour. He went on to say that he thought that astrophotography was a very good field for amateur astronomers to work in and obtain good results.

Monday, 5 April 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.

Even a Cooke cannot see through Trees


Even a Cooke cannot see through trees

Mt T H Waller of York in 1865 using a 4.75 inch Cooke telescope was trying to observe the satellites of Jupiter when unfortunately the planet was obscured by some trees and he was unable to see the immersion of the second satellite or the transit of the third. Fortunately by the time that the fourth satellite was passing in front of Jupiter it had cleared the trees.

Mr Waller was also a very keen double star observer he would often the double star catalogue of Mr Brothers of Manchester and the Bedford Catalogu

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Comet Wells seen with a Cooke

Comet Wells seen with a Cooke 

Bradford Observer Tuesday 11th April 1882

The Comet Wells

Mr. J. Rand Capron writes from the Observatory, Gildown :- This object is now within the power of small telescopes, and was seen with the 6-inch Cooke Equatorial here at 9h. 35min G. M. T. on Thursday, the 6th (just before the moon rose), in a position between Lyra and Draco, closely corresponding to that given in Lord Crawford’s Circular No. 50 R.A. (18h. 28m. 035.; D.N. 44.33). The object was rather faint, and had a tail north preceding. The brightness of the small condensed nucleus was judged about equal to a star of the seventh magnitude. It is increasing in brightness nightly, and as the moonlight departs it will soon become an easy object even for small apertures.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

A New Moon Map from Manchester


From Knowledge & Scientific May 1908

A New Moon Map from Manchester

A new map of the chief lunar features has been issued by Mr W Porterhouse of Manchester. The disc is 12 inches in diameter, and represents the formations as seen in an inverted telescope. Each feature is numbered, and in an index giving the corresponding name is appended on the side of the same sheet.

The whole is very distinct and easily readable by a small lamp. It would probably have added materially to the usefulness of the map if the chief dark features of the moon’s surface, such as the seas, had been either shaded or indicated, with a dark wash; when this is done it provides more definite landmarks for the recognition of the smaller features.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Mr Tetley and a Cooke in Leeds

 Mr Tetley and a Cooke in Leeds

In October 1930 Mr Tetley of Headingley, Leeds used his 4 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope to observe the Sun. He took some photographs of the great sun spot group of October that year. In particular on October 10th the photographs very clearly showed the changes which took place in the groups which crossed the central meridian

I am not sure if the telescope had a photo visual lens or not.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

A Cooke in Sunderland and a spot on Saturn

 A Cooke in Sunderland and a spot on Saturn

Observed the spot on Saturn that had been seen by Dr Terby in March 1890.  Dr Haswell from Grange Terrace, Sunderland saw the spot on several nights in March , and he described it as being very obvious on March 30th, though not so noticeable as it had been last spring.

Haswell used a 4.25 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope which was of short focal length.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Eli Shaw in Barnsley and his Cooke

 Eli Shaw in Barnsley and his Cooke

I have come across Eli Shaw1821-1869 who was a self taught mechanic from Barnsley.

He had a Thomas Cooke & Sons 3 feet achromatic telescope. I would assume that this would have a lens of around 3 inches but I have no definite proof of that just the length of the telescope to go by. He observed the Sun, Moon and planets.

He made his own reflecting telescope, I do not know the size of this instrument. He also made his own astronomical clock. On his death he left a large scientific library and various scientific instruments.

This I am afraid is is all the information I have on Eli Shaw

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The Liverpool Cooke

 The Liverpool Cooke

In 1889 Mr G Rylands offered the a 5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope to Liverpool Town Council, on condition that the council would provide a site for an observatory, of which the Liverpool Astronomical Society should have the use for three nights each week. Consideration of this offer was in the hands of the Parks, Gardens and Improvements Committee.

By 1901 the 5 inch Cooke had fallen into a state of disrepair however it was housed in the observatory provided by the Liverpool corporation on the roof of the New Technical Schools Building.

It was repaired by Mr Thos. Thorp of Whitefield, Manchester and the telescope now has a fine appearance.

The telescope is still owned by the Liverpool Astronomical Society but I don’t think it is in use now.

Monday, 29 March 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.

Meteor Photographed over Halifax


Meteor photographed over Halifax

On August 20th 1901 a fireball brighter than Jupiter was seen at Bristol and Halifax. It was photographed from Halifax by Mr C J Spencer which shows that the meteor, as it slowly penetrated the atmosphere, exhibited marked fluctuations in its light sufficient to give the trail a beaded aspect.

The meteor fell from a height of 56 to 33 miles along a path 44 miles which it traversed at a rate of about 13 miles per second.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Fire Destroys Bath Observatory

 Fire Destroys Bath Observatory 

I came across this story whoch was actually reported in many newspapers. I have yet to work out the maker of the telescope that was destroyed. 

Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette Thursday 24th January 1867.

Destruction of an Observatory.

—On Sunday last the observatory connected with St. Gregory's College, Downside, near Bath, was totally destroyed by fire. It originated apparently in the heating apparatus, which kindled the joists of the ground floor; the flames, which caught some stuffed birds and other natural history specimens in the museum kept in the lower room, were rapidly communicated to the equatorial room above, in which was a magnificent refracting telescope of 15 inches diameter and 20 feet focal length.

The observing stages formed capital fuel for the fire, and in less than hour the whole was one mass of flame, leaving no possibility of rescuing anything. The loss of the glass and astronomical plant attached to the telescope is the more unfortunate as the observatory had only just been placed in full working order. The loss to the college of the antiquities, curiosities, and natural history collections in the museum cannot be estimated, for they contained many unique and invaluable specimens, and were the result of fifty years' accumulation.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

A Cooke for Old Trafford


A Cooke for Old Trafford

I have come across a reference to a Rev Thomas Buckley of Old Trafford Manchester whom in 1856 purchased a portable 3.5 inch Thomas Cooke telescope for £50. I have not been able to discover any references to observations he might have made with the Cooke telescope.

Deaf School for children at Old Trafford

I have little information regarding Buckley other than he appears to be the Honorary Secretary of the school for deaf children in Old Trafford. The school was built in 1860 and adjoins the Botanic Gardens in Old Trafford

Friday, 26 March 2021

Early Photos of the Moon taken from York with a Cooke


Early photos of the Moon taken from York with a Cooke

John Phillips 1800-1874 was an eminent geologist. He would become the first keeper of the Yorkshire Museum which was built by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1829, he also had a great interest in astronomy and photography.

John Phillips

He brought a Thomas Cooke 6.25 inch telescope in 1852 which he set up in the Museum Gardens and in 1853 took some of the earliest photographs of the Moon. He was a keen observer of the Moon and the Sun. He used the 6.25 inch Cooke to observe both objects.

He left the Yorkshire Museum in York around 1854 and moved to work at the University of Oxford firstly as deputy reader in geology and then in 1856 he became professor of Geology.

He was still using the 6.25 inch in the early 1860s, but as with so many Victorian telescopes after his death in 1874 it just disappeared and I have no idea what happened to it.