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.

Thursday 25 February 2021

A 4 inch Cooke in Tewksbury


A 4 inch Cooke in Tewksbury

George Banaster observing from Mythe in Tewkesbury using a 4 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope observed the Trapezium in Orion. In the autumn of 1895 he was able to glance some of the small stars in the Great Orion Nebula.

He noted that the positions of some of the stars were slightly different to those that were seen in the diagram on page 319 of Denning’s ‘Telescopic Works’.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

A Cooke in Derbyshire

A Cooke in Derbyshire 

John Thomas Barber 1825-1897.

Born in Derby on July 23rd 1825 Barber was of independent means but had a great interest in astronomy from the time he was an undergraduate at Cambridge. With Mr J Morgan he published an illustrated account of the Great Aurora of September 24th 1847 as seen from the Cambridge Observatory. He also calculated the ephemerides for the returns of comets.

In 1854 he married Jane With the eldest daughter of the late Rev Matthew With.

They moved to Spondon in Derbyshire in 1864 where he set up his 7.8 inch telescope which as made by Thomas Cooke and Sons of York. I believe he purchased the telescope early in 1864 because from August of 1864 until February 1866 he was purchasing additional equipment for his telescope from Cookes.

On the 16th April 1865 he observed for the first time that year the unilluminated side of the palnet Venus through the Cooke telescope using a power of 85.

While in Rome he observed an eclipse of the Moon on February 27th 1877, this of course did not require the Cooke telescope.

Barber observed Comet Wells on June 7th 1882 using the Cooke and sons telescope. He saw the comet at 8hours and 30 minutes or less than 10 minutes after sunset. He reported a large white discs but no tail was visible at this time.

Comet Wells was discovered on March 17th 1882 at the Albany Observatory in New York by Mr C S Wells assistant at the observatory. 

In 1884 he moved to Aston on Clue in Shropshire where observing conditions were not so good, the telescope was never usd again. Barber died here in 1897.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Telephones in York by Thomas Cooke and Sons


York Herald February 25th 1878

Telephones in York 

Thomas Cooke and Sons York are now prepared to give estimates for supplying telephones and laying the wires.

Examples of telephones of the period

Thomas Cooke and Sons of York not only made optical, horological and philosophical equipment they also moved with the times as the above advert indicates. and made telephones.

Monday 22 February 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.

Sunday 21 February 2021

The Moon observed with a 10 inch Cooke in Denmark

 The Moon observed with a 10 inch Cooke in Denmark

On February 23rd 1905 V. Neilson at the Urania Observatory using the Thomas Cooke and Sons 10 inch Telescope observed the crater Petavius. He found that in the northern part many rills. In making the observations powers of 328 and 447 were used on the Cooke telescope.

Among the rills was a winding rill that attracted his attention. It came from the most northerly part of the central mountains and reaches in a North Westerly direction as far as the wall at the centre of the crater.

Saturday 20 February 2021

The Largest Telescope in the World made in Manchester in 1881


The Largest Telescope in the world made in Manchester

Manchester Courier Wednesday 23rd February 1881

Messers, Galloway of Manchester, have just completed the manufacture of the largest telescope in the world. It has been made for Sir Henry Bessemer, (1813-1898) who had an observatory specially erected for its reception in Denmark Hill, a suburb on the south side of the Thames. The room in which it is to be placed with dome and windows so arranged as to revolve and keep pace automatically with every motion of the telescope. The upper end of the telescope will reach a height of about 45 feet.

Bolton Evening News Wednesday 23rd March 1881

Sir Henry Bessemer has, it is understood almost completed the construction at his home in Denmark Hill, of a telescope at which he has been working on for nearly 2 years. The instrument will be of such power that Sir Henry expects to be able by means of it to read a newspaper placed against the Crystal Palace, 3.5 miles distant.

The 40 inch Bessemer Telescope 

The telescope was a fully steerable 50 inch reflecting telescope with the mirror being made by George Calver. This mirror was not a success and was replaced by a 40 inch mirror. The telescope was mounted on a massive concrete foundation. There were two 6 inch Cooke refractors used as finders. The main telescope structure weighed around 12 tons. The dome had a clear internal diameter of 36 feet. The dome rotated on bearings powered by a turbine.

I have no idea what happen to this massive instrument, after the death of Sir Henry the instrument was offered to the British Astronomical Association however the running costs for such a large instrument were to high.

Sir Henry Bessemer was born near Hitchin in Hertfordshire and made his fortune in the iron and steel industry with large factories based in Sheffield.

Monday 15 February 2021

Mercury seen with 2 inch Cooke


Mercury seen with 2inch Cooke

On February 15th 1868 at 6.15 pm William Lawton of Hull observed the planet Mercury, it was as he described one of the clearest views he had of that planet.

Using powers of 50 and up to 100 on the 2 inch Cooke and Sons telescope he was able to observe the gibbous aspect of the planet and also took note of its brilliancy.

Friday 12 February 2021

1857 Occultation of Jupiter seen from Liverpool, reported in New Zealand


1857 Occultation of Jupiter seen from Liverpool reported in New Zealand

Lyttelton Times Wednesday 6th May 1857

I was interested to see that the occultation was being reported from the other side of the world, I don’t know if the editor of the paper was interested in astronomy or whether there were any connections between Liverpool and Canterbury in New Zealand  where the Lyttleton Times was based.

The occultation of the planet Jupiter on the evening of Jan. 3 was observed at Liverpool observatory. At the immersion the four satellites and the planet where all seen to disappear behind the moon. Clouds came over immediately after immersion of the fourth or proceeding satellite, but they speedily passed away and the immersion of the remaining three satellites and Jupiter was also observed. At their immersion the satellites became fainter for three or four seconds and then suddenly disappeared. The entire time of obscuration was 50 minutes 58 seconds. The most remarkable fact was that no distortion of the image Jupiter was noticed, contrary to almost all past experience.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

The Oldstead Observatory

 The Oldstead Observatory 

Oldstead is a village near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, there are suggestions that it was used by people who took telescopes to the top. The skies in the 19th century would have been very clear from the tower.

York Herald Saturday 28th October 1837

Relic of Mortality, at Oldstead .

The in- habitants of Oldstead in the North-Riding, and its vicinity, have had their curiosity much excited, during these few days past, by the discovery of the bones ft a human skeleton, which were found in digging the foundation of an observatory, on the estate of John Wormald Esq. of Oldstead Hall. They were turned up in the most secluded part of the property, at a place called Snever Point, which is situated on the heights of Black Hambleton, by the side of a wood, and according to Col. Mudge's Trigonometrical Survey, at a height 1246 feet above the level of the sea. Judging from the appearance of the skeleton, which is that of a female, it has lain in the earth for many years, and from the manner of its disposal, the body seeming to have been doubled up, when put into its grave, conjecture would assign a violent death to the individual whose remains are thus mysteriously brought to light. A piece of common flint was found amongst the bones, such as a person might carry about with them for the purpose of striking a light.

York Herald Saturday 7th July 1838

Oldstead— No one baa shewn more loyalty to their Queen and Sovereign, than Mr. Wormald. of Oldstead Hall, and the inhabitants of that village. Mr. Wormald gave a general invitation to all the villagers to assemble on the heights, and there to drink, in a bumper, the health of their Queen, which was done with the greatest feelings of loyalty, a band of music attending; after which, under the command of Mr. Sutton, a royal salute of 21 guns were fired from the terrace of the observatory.

This observatory, which was erected by Mr. Wormald to commemorate the first year of her reign, is a strong rough pile of stone. Upwards of 40 feet in height, standing upon a rock in the summit of a wood, 1140 feet above the level of the sea: and on the north side thereof bears the following inscription:— " John Wormald, in the first year of the reign of Queen Victoria, caused this Observatory to be erected.— John Dodds, builder." On the south side are the following lines, in every respect appropriate with the situation where this building stands:—

Here bills and waving groves a scene display,

And part admit, and part exclude the day;

See rich industry smiling on the plains,

And peace and plenty tell, Victoria reigns

Happy the man who to these shades retires,

Whom nature charms, and whom the muse inspires;

Who, wandering thoughtful in this silent wood,

Attends the duties of the wise and good;

To observe a mean, be to himself a friend,

To follow nature, and regard his end.

After this pleasing ceremony was over, a party of Mr. Wormwald’s friends retired to Oldstead Hall, where a cold collation was provided, and the same feeling prevailed to a late hour.  

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Liverpool International Exhibition of Photography 1888



Liverpool Mercury Friday 20th January 1888

Extract from paper

What Liverpool has done in the art science of photography from its discovery in 1839 to the present jubilee year of photographic discovery.

Celestial photography moves in an orbit of its own by being a society by itself. Liverpool owns a bright luminary in the person of Mr Isaac Roberts of Maghull, who is now engaged in mapping the heavens.

The old Liverpool society (photographic ) laid the foundation of this work and the following extracts will show this:- Dr Edwards FCS read a paper on the collodian photographs of the Moon Surface. He said that about the year 1854 the Liverpool Photographic Society recognising the importance of this subject, and the interest felt it in the British Association at the last meeting requested MR J A Forrest its secretary and My J Hartnup of the :Liverpool Observatory and himself , to act as a committee for obtaining photographs of the Moon by the Liverpool telescope, and to lay them before the present meeting.

The committee had produced a large number of pictures with variable success and some of the most perfect copies were now presented. The telescope is furnished with an excellent equatorial mounting and clock work motion of great firmness and steadiness. The object glass has a focal length of about 12.5 feet and a small camera box being substituted for the eye piece, the image is received upon the ground glass or prepared plate in the ordinary manner.

At the Liverpool Astronomical Society last month a paper was read on Celestial Photography:-At a joint meeting of the Literary and Philosophical and Astronomical Societies of Liverpool, Mr. Herbert Sadler,.FRAS read a paper on Celestial Photography, in which he referred to-the great advances which had lately been latterly been made in astronomy by the assistance of photography. Starting from the first crude and imperfect pictures of the sun and moon, astronomy and photography had marched hand in hand until the by present methods of manipulation enabled us to photograph objects which the eye can never hope to see.

The paper was profusely illustrated by celestial photographs; and in calling attention to go a picture of Capella Mr, Sadler explained that the rays which affected the plate started on their errand during the battle of Waterloo. As an illustration of the far-reaching power of the photographic eye, the map of the Pleiades constructed by M. Wolf contained 671 stars, and after a careful sounding in this direction with the largest telescope in the Paris Observatory, the author felt assured that all beyond was darkness, and that he had absolutely reached the utmost depths of space. But a photograph of the same district taken by the Brothers Henry, with a much smaller telescope, in one hour showed 1421 stars against the 671 which bad taken M Wolf three years to Map.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

An Observatory for Maryport


An Observatory for Maryport

Maryport Advertiser Friday 18th September 1863

The late Mr Daniel Dawson in erecting the tall building at the South-West end of Crosby street, intended to furnish it with a large day and night telescope, camera obscure, and other instruments, suitable for an Observatory; but his sudden death occurring before his object was fully carried out, disappointed the hopes of many of his townsmen. The building is now let at a low rent as a dwelling house, but is still available for the object for which it was originally designed. The wish has lately been revived. It has been suggested to us that a joint stock company, under the Limited Liability Act, might readily be formed—say, at £1 per share; and for £l2O, or £l5O, the buiding might be provided with suitable instruments, and otherwise fitted up in the interior, so as to make it an attractive place of resort for our summer visitors as well as the inhabitants, on all occasions. We have submitted the plan to Thomas Cooke & Son, the Astronomical Instrument Makers, in York, and their reply•to our queries is as follows:

The Telescope you refer to, is of 4 inches aperture. The object glass is manufactured by ourselves,—the tube and eye pieces are French, of which 8 are astronomical and 2 terrestrial. The equatorial mounts are by Adie, of Edinburgh, and are on Professor Smyth's mortar principle. It in furnished with graduated hour circle, and tangent screw motions, and declination circle. The object is quite new and excellent. The price, as above described, is 30 Guineas. As to the Camera, I should require the size of the object, for which it is intended, before 1 can glee you as answer. Yours &c


We believe the Telescope here described cost, originally, £80—but was taken back into stock by Messrs. Cooke in lieu of one adapted for an enlarged establishment. It is quite unnecessary for us to expatiate on the advantages to the town generally, in having something which would prove attractive to our summer visitors. neighbouring towns are stealing a march on us, and if we do not bestir ourselves we shall be distanced in the race. If, after securing the necessary astronomical and Mathematical apparatus to satisfy the more philosophical class, a collection of such natural products as the district furnishes were stored up there, it would soon become a local museum, to which the annual subscribers residing in the town could resort at, any time, especially when eclipses, comets, or other astronomical phenomena were to be seen while the strangers would find it a pleasant, as well as profitable place of resort to while away their tedious hours, and give a pleasing variety to their otherwise monotonous occupations. We shall shortly return to this subject. In the meantime let our friends digest some plan of carrying out the object.

Monday 1 February 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.

Liverpool Astronomical Society 1884

 Liverpool Astronomical Society 1884

Liverpool Mercury Wednesday 25th June 1884

The fifth meeting of this society during the present session was held at the association hall, on Monday evening, the Rev. T. E. Espin, B.A, FRAS in the chair. Mr. Isaac Roberts, FRAS, gave a description of his recent experience in photographing the stars and nebulae. The method he had- adopted was to fix two, and sometimes three, cameras upon the declination axis of his large telescope, and to take simultaneous photographs of a star-group or nebula, using similar plates, and allowing the same exposure to each.- The Chairman said the results obtained by Mr. Roberts were most valuable, and the society was much indebted to him. The observatory at West Kirby had lately been furnished with one of Grubb's large stellar cameras, fitted with clock motion and equatorialy mounted, and he hoped shortly to be able to give a satisfactory account of its performance.

Mr. S. B Peal advanced a new theory of lunar formation. He had been struck by the inadequate explanations at present in vogue and, after a critical examination of the lunar surface, was led to believe that the rings and angular formations were caused by condensed vapour, snow of a sort, though not necessarily the same as ours. In the case of the Himalsyas, the snow lies for ages unchanged, even under a vertical tropical sun. The objection that the snow would appear dazzling white was met with the suggestion that meteoric dust falls on our polar regions, even in such a quantity as to be visible to the eye. and our snow is re-newed, whilst the lunar snow would be permanent.

Captain W Noble, FRAS, held that this theory entirely failed to account for the physical aspect of the moon. Every one who had looked at the moon through a telescope would be familiar with the light green hue of the sea of serenity, and the somewhat bluer green of the sea of humours. Other districts also exhibited a variety of colours, so that the amount of meteoric dust necessary to produce those effects would have thrown the recent efforts of Krakatoa wholly into the shade. Moreover, it would be remembered that the photo- metric determination of the moon's light shows that her surface is nearer black than white. Nor did Mr. Peal seem. to consider the recent re- searches of Lord Rosse, who had calculated that the moon roust at tines be heated to something like 500 degrees Fahr., a condition that certainly did not obtain on the Himalayas.

Mr. J. IV. Appleton, F. R A.S., said the limit of the terrestrial snow-line depended more upon temperature than height, and varied, with the latitude, from the level of the sea to 16,000 feet above it.

Mr.W. H. Davies, FRAS remarked that Captain Noble’s argument, based on the determination of the moon's light, seemed to have been anticipated by the theory of meteoric dust. But it struck him that this was getting out of one difficulty only to get into another; for if the sun's rays were not reflected , they must be absorbed, and then what became of the snow?

P'apers were also contributed by Mr. W. H. Gage, F.R A.S., on Variable Stars; by Mr. H. Corder, on " Meteors ;" and by Mr. Stanley Williams, on " The Comet Pons.-' Dr. William Huggins, FRS and the Rev. S. J. Perry, F.R.S. (Stoney- burst), were elected associates, and nine new members were elected. Several photographs of stars and nebula were exhibited, and a simple equatorial mounting for small telescopes was described.