Monday 4 January 2021

Venus observed by giant Cooke telescope in Scarborough


Venus observed by giant Cooke telescope in Scarborough

On January 2nd and 3rd 1886 the unlit side of the planet Venus was observed from Scarborough. The observations were undertaken by James Wigglesworth who had built an observatory in the town between 1884-1885 and it housed a 15.5 inch Thomas Cooke telescope.

Wigglesworth described his observations as saying that he could clearly see the dark side of Venus through his telescope. It appeared to be grey in colour except near the terminator where the secondary spectrum causes it to appear blue and compared to the bright part of Venus it looks much smaller.

James Wigglesworth a financial adviser who brought the company of Thomas Cooke & Sons in 1879 to save it from bankruptcy. His great interest was in astronomy so he had a 15.5 inch telescope and a 30 feet observatory which would house it to be constructed in Scarborough.

Sadly for Scarborough it’s claim to fame to have a major observatory lasted only for a short period of time because James Wigglesworth died in 1888.

The telescope and observatory were dismantled in 1890 and were sold to the Italian astronomer Vincenzo Cerulli. The observatory today is now as the Terano Observatory and I assume that the 15.5 inch Cooke is still there.

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