Saturday, 28 May 2022

1860 Lunar occultation of Jupiter seen from Manchester


I have come across a report from Saturday May 26th 1860 of an occultation of Jupiter by the Moon observed from Manchester.

The occultation began at 4.34 pm and I quote “ Jupiter should have appeared at 6.13 pm but had not, this could be due to superfluous light above and below. By 7.00 pm I could distinguish Jupiter easily. I observed Jupiter until 8.00 pm when it became cloudy”.

A F Goddard,

Bury New Road, Manchester

Friday, 27 May 2022

758 Mancuria


On May 18th 1912 Harry Edwin Wood who was chief assistant at the Union Observatory in South Africa discovered an asteroid, it was named Mancuria after the city in which he was born, Manchester. He would discover 12 asteroids between 1911-1932.

Mancuria is the Latin name for Manchester

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Rev. Howlett and a Cooke telescope mounting


The Rev Frederick Howlett FRAS (1821-1908) purchased in 1865 a plain equatorial mounting from Thomas Cooke & Sons, it was made to carry either a 4 or 5 inch telescope. At the time that the mounting was ordered he was living at the St Augustone’s Parsonage , Hurst Green , Sussex.

Howlett used a 3 inch Dollond telescope, I am not sure when he purchased this telescope but it was before 1863. During the 1860s-1880s he used this small telescope to make extensive observations of sunspots.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Scriven Bolton and the Japan British Exhibition of 1910


Scriven Bolton 1883-1929 is a Yorkshire astronomer whose life and work is hardly known yet his contributions in particular in the field of astronomical illustrations were incredible and his work almost certainly influenced the famous American space scientist Chesley Bonestell.

Bolton was honoured with the award of the Gold Medal at the Franco British exhibition in 1908 and in 1910 was presented with a diploma at the Japan British exhibition. In 1924 he was elected as a fellow of the royal society of arts.

Born in 1883 Thomas Simeon Scriven Bolton he inherited his mother’s maiden surname and was always known as Scriven. His father was a mill owner from Yeadon near Leeds. At the time of his birth the woollen textile business was thriving. A small recession in the early 1890 meant that his father took a aprt share in a mineral oil merchanting business, and the family moved to Waterloo Lodge an out of town villa in Bramley Leeds. Scriven followed his father into the business and it was a t Waterloo Lodge that he would build his large observatory housing his 26 inch reflector.

Scriven must have had an interest in astronomy from a young age because in 1899 at the age of 16 he joined the Leeds Astronomical Society. By 1906 his skills of drawing were such that he was sending drawings of the planet Jupiter to the astronomer royal William Christie. It was around this time that his work attracted attention from within the commercial world. He was soon sending astronomical drawings to the Illustrated London News, The New York Times, popular Science Monthly, the Sphere, The Graphic, Science and Invention, National Geographic and the Yorkshire Post. Plus numerous contributions to the English Mechanic. He drawings also appeared in the journals of the British Astronomical Association , The Royal astronomical society of which he was a fellow and of course Leeds AAS.

There is no definite list of the various publishing houses and authors who used his work, but the ones we know of include Chambers’s Astronomy, Hutchinsons Splendour of the Heavens and HH turner’s A Voyage in Space.

His drawings include those of the Earth and other bodies in the solar system, Bolton’s work clearly influenced Chesley Bonestell the legendary American space artist. Bonestell copied Bolton’s idea of making a 3 d plaster model and then photograph the models as a basis for their illustrations. This is the early 20th century version of CGI.

With his observations of the sky he made an observatory the so called Waterloo Observatory which housed his 26 inch reflector together wit a 10 inch reflector and a 6 inch 1908 the University made available its new Cecil Duncombe observatory on Woodhouse Moor, Florence Taylor the Yorkshire astronomer had donated £100 to the building of the observatory. Scriven Bolton was only one of two members of Leeds AS who were allowed time on the 18 inch telescope. Scriven’s home was within easy walking distance of this observatory.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Josepeh Baxendell and the Blaze Star


The Manchester based astronomer Joseph Baxendell (1815-1887) who was a prolific observer of variable stars discovered one of the most famous nova, T Corona Borealis or as it became known as the ‘Blaze Star’.

I should mention that the star was also observed by the Iris astronomer John Birmingham.

On May 12th 1866 he saw the star at magnitude 2.0, nova were not new, they had been observed by astronomers before, this star was followed until it faded from view. However what made this star so famous was that it went nova again on February 9th 1946. Although other stars had been observed to go through the nova process more than once, T Corona Borealis was by far the brightest, hence it’s name the ‘Blaze Star’.

Astronomers watching the star today wonder when it will next blaze forth and become a nova for a third time.

Monday, 23 May 2022

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.

Venus observed from Manchester in 1871


Mr Henry Ormesher of Manchester has frequently observed the planet Venus during the last few months. He has on several occasions succeeded in detecting the dark markings. 

He says - ‘May 10th 1871  the markings were clear and well defined and remind me very much of the planet Mars, having much the same appearance’. On May 21st and May 29th he also saw dusky markings on the planet’s surface with his 5.25 inch refractor.