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.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Comet Morehouse observed from Australia with a Cooke


Comet Morehouse observed with a Cooke from Australia

James Nangle observed comet Morehouse on March 19th 1909 form his observatory at Marrickville New South Wales. He had a 6.25 inch Cooke telescope.

Nangle described the comet as having a long tail that was distinctly seen. He said that the telescope was not that well equipped for studying comets as the lowest power on the 6.25 inch Cooke was 150 magnification. With this power the comet was a very unsatisfactory object, the head only being slightly visible, and that an indistinctly defined mass showing a bright condensation at the centre.

James Nangle 1868-1941 would go on to become Government Astronomer for New South Wales in 1926. One point of interest about the 6.25 inch telescope is that Nangle refers to the lens of hi telescope being made by the elder Cooke. This suggests that this is a pre 1857 telescope made before the firm became Cooke & Sons. It also suggests that the telescope was made for someone in the UK and then made its way to Australia.

James Nangle

In 1910 Nangle worked out that to reduce the glare of an object he was looking at it was useful to place a piece of mosquito netting in front of the lens. Simple but effective!!

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Edward Pigott discovers the Black Eye Galaxy


Edward Pigott discovers the Black Eye Galaxy

Edward Pigott together with John Goodricke would become what I called the ‘Fathers of Variable Star Astronomy’ because of the work they would do fr a brief moment in time between 1781-1786 in York on the subject of variable stars.

However Edward Pigott had already made significant contributions to astronomy before he arrived in York

On March 23, 1779, from Frampton House in Glamorganshire Edward Pigott discovered a "nebula" in the constellation of Coma Berenices. Many references suggest that it was the German astronomer Johann Bode who discovered . However Pigott made the discovery 12 days before that by Bode.

The following year 1780, the French Comet hunter Charles Messier saw this object, he found around a dozen comets none that were particularly important. He did however discover many nebulous objects which he were not comets. He drew up a list of these objects so as to not get confused with real comets. And although most of his comets are forgotten his list of non comet objects, his Messier list is still used by astronomies today.

M64 The Black Eye Galaxy

Pigott’s nebula is number 64 or M64 in the Messier list, it is a galaxy around 17 million light years away, and is often called the ‘Black Eye Galaxy’ due to the vast amount of dust that blacks out the centre of the galaxy.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

The Newcastle University Cooke


The Newcastle University Cooke

In 1871 the foundation of the College of Physical Sciences was founded in Newcastle in 1871, it was renamed the Armstrong College in 1904 after William George Armstrong the engineer and industrialist. I 1908 it would become part of the university of Durham.

A 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons was presented to Armstrong College in 1915 possibly by a local historian J A Wellford.

The telescope was still in use in the 1960s when land at Close House Mansion, Heddon on the Wall, Northumberland was acquired by Kings College Newcastle, later renamed Newcastle University. This was known as the Espin Observatory.

I believe the observatory in the foreground housed the 4.5 inch Cooke

The Espin Observatory contained telescopes used by the Rev THEC Espin 1858-1934 of Tow Law in County Durham including a 24 inch reflector made by George Calver in 1914.

The Cooke was in use until the early 2000s until the site was sold for re development the Cooke was removed and I don’t know the location of it is today.

Monday 22 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.

Mars seen from Liverpool with a Cooke

 Mars seen from Liverpool with a Cooke

My Joynson of Liverpool on the opposition of Mars in 1865 using a Thomas Cooke and Sons 6 inch telescope which had a focal length of 7 feet and 6 inches and with eyepiece powers from100 tom 550, he also used a Barlow lens up to 1,100.

Joynson found that no increase of power altered the aspect of Mars, nor did he detect any difference in the markings of Mars since 1862. The snow at the Noth Pole was not visible in 1864.  In 1865 the snow at the pole was not so surprisingly marked as usual, and a nearly equatorial belt was very prominent.

Sunday 21 March 2021

White Spot seen on Moon with a Cooke

 White Spot seen on Moon with a Cooke

Alfred Noel Neate from Carlisle on March 26th 1909 observed the Moon using his 4 inch Thomas Cooke and Son telescope on a power of 140. He observed a white spot to the west of the crater Picard. He observed the while spot from 7hr 15 min to 8h 20 min pm.

Mr Neate considered the spot to be about 10 to 11 miles in diameter. He also thought that the spot was brighter at its southern end, and a central dark spot was seen.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Update on A Cooke in Manchester


Update on A Cooke in Manchester

I orginally posted this on September 11th 2020, but I now believe that I might have found out what happened to this 6 inch Cooke

I have come across details of a Cooke telescope which was purchased by Benjamin Dennison Naylor of Manchester in 1863 it was a 6 inch Cooke, I then came across a note from a Miss Naylor of Altrincham in 1869, following the death of Benjamin Naylor. I am not sure what relation she was to Benjamin but she was advertising a very fine equatorial by Cooke, almost new, 6 inch aperture with clockwork movement, eyepieces and finder.

Benjamin Naylor died at his residence at the Knoll near Altrincham on December 27th 1868, he was the last lineal male descendant of four of the clergy ejected from their livings by the act of Uniformity in 1662. He was a governor of Chetham’s Hospital and Library.

I do not know who brought this telescope following the death of Benjamin Naylor, maybe someone in the Manchester area is familiar with this astronomer and might know the answer.

I came across this reference concerning Mr James Townsend living in New Zealand and his 1864 Thomas Cooke and Sons 6 inch telescope. There is no reference to him buying the telescope from new so it can only be second hand, hence the possible connection with the Naylor telecope.

I have now discovered more about this telescope I believe it might have been purchased by a Mr James Townsend who later moved to New Zealand and took the 6 inch Cooke with him. It was used to observe the 1884 Transit of Venus at Christchurch not by Townsend but by the Lands and Survey Officer Walter Kitson (1835-1914).

The telescope was donated by Townsend in 1891 to the Canterbury College in Christchurch and in 1896 it was installed in the newly erected tower observatory on campus. It remained under the control of the University’s department of Physics and astronomy and was used for regular ‘public viewing nights’.

6 inch Townsend telecope at Christchurch

Sadly the observatory tower was damaged during the 2010 earthquake and collapsed during the 2011 earthquakes. Although the telescope was badly damaged, surprisingly the lens survived.

Observatory after earthquake

 It is planned to restore the telescope to its former glory. 

Friday 19 March 2021

Mercury seen in daylight through a 6 inch Cooke


Mercury seen in daylight through a 6 inch Cooke

Mr Frederick Longbottom 1850-1933 was born in Scarborough the family would move to Worcestershire where they would become hop merchants. When he retired he was able to devote much more time to his favourite hobby, astronomy.

He had a 6 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope which he had before 1896 because he took it with him to Norway to try to observe the eclipse of the Sun. He also went on eclipse trips to Algiers in 1900 and Spain in 1905. He was at Giggleswick for the 1927 eclipse of the Sun. He helped to form the Chester Astronomical Society.

He eventually left the north of England and settled in Boscombe in Hampshire and it was from here that Longbottom was able in early June 1928 to see the planet Mercury in the day time sky using the 6 inch Cooke telescope.

Thursday 18 March 2021

A Cooke at the Bank in Liverpool


A Cooke at the Bank in Liverpool

James Leigh 1838- 1895 was born in Liverpool was a banker by profession, and from 1876 until his death he was the manager of the Metropolitan Bank of England and Wales. He was particularly interested in observing the Moon and double stars.

He had a 4 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope and his address was given as Bank, King Sttreet Liverpool.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

A Cooke at the Yorkshire Exhibition in Leeds in 1875


A Cooke at the Yorkshire Exhibition in Leeds in 1875

Mr John McLandsborough 1820-1900 of the exchange, Bradford exhibited a large equatorial telescope made by Thomas Cooke and Sons of York at the Yorkshire Exhibition at Leeds in June 1875.

Unfortunately I do not know the size of this telescope.

John McLandsborough was a civil engineer, born in Scotland his family moved to Otley in Yorkshire where the young John was educated at the Grammar School in Otley. He later moved to Bradford where he established a meteorological station. He was always interested in astronomy and apart from the Cooke telescope he also had a reflecting telescope made by Browning.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Sale of a Large Achromatic Cooke


Sale of a Large Achromatic Cooke

The great refractor by Thomas Cooke and Sons oy York, which was shown at the International Exhibition of 1871 was sold by auction by Messrs Stevens of King Street, Covent Garden for about £750.

The instrument which had every modern appliance, and was one of the most complete ever turned out by the celebrated instrument makers was of 10 inches clear aperture and was originally priced at £1,200, but owing to the rise in wages and materials would now be charged much more. The purchaser was Mr Henley, the telegraph engineer.

William Thomas Henley was a submarine cable maker in Greenwich. He set up the Persian Gulf Cable which was 1,651 miles long. The success of which allowed him to gain many more contracts.

Monday 15 March 2021

Occultation by Saturn seen in South Africa in 1920 with a 6 inch Cooke

Occultation by Saturn seen in South Africa in 1920 with a 6 inch Cooke

I am not sure which star was occulted by Saturn in this report.

Occultation of a Star by Saturn on March 14th 1920 made at Rondebosch, South Africa using a 6 inch Thomas Cooke telescope by W Reid, C. L O’B Dutton and W G McIntyre.

From the report that was received from South Africa it was assumed that many observers in the north would have seen this occultation but that does not seem the be the case. Due to this exact timings were not prepared. The report says that the star was not following its predicted path although I wonder if what they were really seeing was that Saturn was not quite in its predicted place.

The time when the star was in contact with the rings was given as 8.46 South African Standard Time however this was a compromise. It was the time when the observers present were all certain that the star was behind the rings. Mr Reid thought it touched the rings 3 minutes earlier and at the time given was on the edge of Ring B.

At first their was very little loss of light, but as soon as it touched Ring B the light gradually faded for about a half a magnitude. It remained this way for a few seconds, when it fell a little further, and almost immediately the flicker took place – that is, the star suddenly almost went out, but not quite, it rose again fairly suddenly. After this its light fluctuated very considerably, but never reached more than a magnitude less than its original brightness.

The star disappeared behind the planet at 8.54 and re appeared at 10.36. The seeing on the night was very good.

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 14 March 2021

Cooke for Carlisle


Cooke for Carlisle

In February 1857 William Day of Carlisle who was headmaster at the Christchurch Boys School in Carlisle purchased a 4.25 inch portable equatorial telescope. As this was early 1857 it could still be a Thomas Cooke of York telescope rather than a Thomas Cooke & Sons of York, because it was around this time that the company changed its name.

He also in early 1858 purchased a smaller 3.5 inch telescope also from Cookes.

I did make some enquiries with the Border Astronomical Society back in 1995 to try to find out more about William Day but unfortunately nothing else was discovered.

If you know differently I can add the information to the Cooke data base.

Saturday 13 March 2021

The Cooke Darlington Telescope


The Cooke  Darlington Telescope

The story of the telescope begins in 1890, when the vicar of Eryholme, in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire the Reverend Walter Stewart, had it installed in his home, Ellcott House, in Hurworth near Darlington.

It was "a 5-inch equatorially-mounted refractor" built by T Cooke and Sons of York.

It cost £374, and was regarded by one and all as a very fine instrument , a vast amount of money at the time.

In 1904, Mr Stewart, who was born in Hurworth, was offered a new living in Longley, Gloucestershire. Because Longley is a long way, the telescope had to remain, and so Mr Stewart offered it to Darlington council for about £130.

It seemed natural to place the telescope at the new technical college in Northgate, built in 1896, but the college was still £2,163 in debt and the councillors were in no mood to increase its overdraft for the sake of a telescope.

At the last minute, 29 of the town's leading citizens emptied out their pockets and scraped together enough money to prevent the telescope being sent to the saleroom.

They formally presented it to the town on November 8, 1904, and the following year it was set up in the college's back yard.

But its view of the skies was not good and it was planned to move it to the college roof for "an uninterrupted view of the heavens".

But an astronomical advisor reported: "If the telescope is to be regarded as a pastime then that position would be satisfactory enough, but if a scientific use is to be made of the instrument the position is absolutely unsuitable. The ordinary tram and other forms of traffic set up a great deal of vibration."

North Lodge Park, next to the college, was dismissed as a site because town centre smoke would have obscured the heavens, so a site in South Park, next to the bowling green, was chosen.

The telescope was installed in December 1906 in its wooden, revolving observatory. Students of the skies had to pay 6d each, and inform the park superintendent if they intended to arrive after the park gates were locked for the night.In February 1908, Professor Dixon, one of the telescope's supervisors, even started an astronomy class at the technical college to make use of the instrument.

But in October 1910, the class was discontinued because it had no students.

In 1912, it was reported that "very little use is being made of the telescope", and by 1919 there was even less.

In January 1931, the Darlington and Stockton Times reported: "The telescope is seldom used now; in fact very few people know of its existence."

At the request of Darlington Grammar School, which is now the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, the telescope was removed to playing fields off Abbey Road.

There, its 100 ft high observatory was not popular with residents of Westbourne Grove.

In February 1951, the observatory was broken into, but police recovered the stolen equipment a couple of months later.

In 1979, Barry Hetherington, then chairman of the Cleveland and Darlington Astronomical Society, reported that the telescope needed a major overhaul.

In 1992, there was a fire in the wooden observatory and a lump of melted metal was sold as scrap. Six months later, someone seems to have realised that this lump was in fact the remains of the Darlington Telescope.

Later that year, it was reported that the base, the internal workings and the observatory wheels had survived the blaze and were being kept in a metal container.

There was some vague talk about them one day being included in a new, £50,000 telescope, but that that idea was quietly eclipsed.

Friday 12 March 2021

A 7 inch Cooke in Manchester

 A 7 inch Cooke in Manchester

Eddowes Bowman 1810-1869 was born in Nantwich in Cheshire and although he considered going into an engineering profession but his career took him into the field of classical literature.

He became chair of Greek and Latin Classics and Greek and Roman History in Manchester New College. It was also at this time that he developed an interest in natural science. This included astronomy.

In the early 1860s he purchased a 7.25 Cooke refractor in a specially constructed observatory. I do not know if the observatory was built by Cookes. Due to his many other interests it appears as if the telescope was little used. He died at Victoria Park Manchester on July 10th 1869.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Occultation of Mars with a 6 inch Cooke


Occultation of Mars with a 6 inch Cooke

Occultation by Mars of BD +24’ 1659 bf A F Bennett April 21st 1929 using a 6 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons Telescope

The observation was made from Leiston in Suffolk under good sky conditions. A bar had been fixed at the focus of the eyepiece, a Zeiss orthoscopic being used and giving a magnification of 240 on the 6 inch Cooke.

The star presented a minute sharp image, which without taking advantage of the bar to reduce the glare from Mars could be kept clearly in view until it had approached to within about 10” distance of the latter.

The star was held unmistakeably under observation until 20 h 39m 11s, when it could no longer be seen. The bar was now shifted so s to show the extreme edge of the Western limb of Mars, an the star was first glimpsed again, on reappearance at 20h and 50 min. The mean of these times gives 20h 45m for mid occultation.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

T W Backhouse, Two Comets and a Cooke


T W Backhouse, Two Comets and a Cooke

On the 27th September 1892 about 15hrs 30 mins GMT comet Brooks (c1892) had a tail 10 degrees long, pointing at an angle of 280 degrees.

At the later part of September Swift’s comet (a1892) was still a conspicuous object seen with a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke refractor. Observations on several nights showed that it not only has a faint tail- at position angle 260 degrees on the 24th September at 8hrs and 30 mins, when I observed it to be certainly 11 degrees long, and suspected it to 21 degrees- but that also there was an elongation nearly in the opposite direction.

T W Backhouse 4.5 inch Cooke 

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Sunspots from Somerset with a Cooke

 Sunspots from Somerset with a Cooke

Mr R. L. Robinson, Minehead, Somerset using a Thomas Cooke and Sons 6 inch telescope made a series of drawings of sunspots large and small in October, November and December 1929. These spots were of considerable interest because they rapidly changed in appearance on a daily scale.

In many cases details of structure were obtained using a Dawes eyepiece, by which a great deal of the surrounding photosphere can be shut off or even a large part of a spot can be isolated. This is often a great advantage, especially in observing the changes of detail in a bridge or projection.

Monday 8 March 2021

Early Astronomical Society in Manchester in 1838?


Early Astronomical Society in Manchester in 1838?

I came across this reference to a possible very early astronomical society in Manchester which if correct  would predate that of the Leeds Astronomical Society which was founded in 1859 and I believe was the first astronomical society in England. I am sure that people in Manchester will know more about this.

Leeds Mercury Saturday 29th December 1838

Astronomical Society in Manchester.

A few days since a preliminary meeting consisting of a few gentlemen scientists was held for the purpose of establishing an Astronomical Society in Manchester, with a splendid observatory. James Heywood Esq brother of Sir Benjamin Heywood, has we believe, the merit of first suggesting the desirableness of such an institution. There is doubt, from what has already transpired, that the proposition will be liberally responded to.

Leeds Intelligencer Saturday 1th January 1839

A proposition has been started, and favourably received for an errection of an astronomical observatory in the vicinity of Manchster.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Eclpise of Sun seen from Manchester 1867

                             Eclipse of the Sun seen from Manchester in 1867

Saturday 6 March 2021

Early spectroscopic Changes in Gamma Cassiopeia seen with a Cooke


Early spectroscopic Changes in Gamma Cassiopeia seen with a Cooke

Stanley E. Percival, Merriott Vicarage, Somerset observing with a 3.75 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope reported that the bright hydrogen line C has been very bright recently in Gamma Cassiopeia.

He reported on May 2nd 1906 that he failed to see the C line, while on May 4th he saw it quite distinctly. On May 18th although the sky was clear and the spectrum steady he barely glimpsed it.

Gamma is the middle star in the 'W' of Cassiopeia

He notes that in Miss Clerke’s ‘Problems in Astrophysics’ page 248 that it has previously behaved in a capricious way, and if my small Cooke telescope is to be trusted it looks like it is doing so again.

Spectroscopic changes appear to have started around 1927 so this could be a much earlier report than is generally accepted. The spectroscopic variations did seem to occur some years before the light changes were detected.

Friday 5 March 2021

James Nasmyth and his Cooke


James Nasmyth and his Cooke

1808-1890 Scottish engineer, philosopher and inventor of the Steam Hammer was also very interested in astronomy and when he retired from business in 1856 he moved to Penshurst in Kent to follow his interest in astronomy.

8 inch Cooke and Sons Telescope

In 1858 he purchased an 8 inch Cooke and Sons of York telescope which was complete in every respect possible. The telescope cost £600. Today that would be £75, 049!!

Thursday 4 March 2021

Eclipse of the Moon seen through a Cooke in Brighton in 1856


Eclipse of the Moon seen through a Cooke in Brighton in 1856

Brighton Gazette Thursday 16th October 1856


Perhaps the following description of the beautiful lunar eclipse that took place on Monday, as seen from Howell’s observatory, at Hove, may not be uninteresting to some of your readers.

The moon was shinning with intense brightness over the sea, in a cloudless sky, S. E by S., and at an elevation of about 45 degrees, when, punctual to the predicted time, 9h. 21m., a slight diminution of light was evident on the eastern limb of our satellite, like a very faint wash of Indian ink, and after little a while she advanced in her easterly course, dipping into the earth’s shadow, this latter appeared like a small dent in the moon’s side, gradually growing deeper and wider, until a large piece seemed to have been actually eaten away. At this time the indented part could not he distinguished from the surrounding ebon sky, but about half an hour from the commencement, carefully looking through Howell’s equatorial for the obscured portion, I could plainly distinguish it, clearly defined by a sharp edge and of a delicate roseate hue, and which, on my drawing their attention to it, was also seen by Captain Shay and the other gentleman present. As the eclipse proceeded and more of the moon’s disc became covered by the earth s umbra, the red color grew much stronger, pervading, though with unequal intensity, the whole portion of the disc on which the shadow was advancing like a smoky haze, with a very flat curved outline. In advance of the curved and coppery umbra a variable band of bluish tint gradually came into view, sometimes very light, which continued until the period of deepest immersion (l1h. 54m.), when a very small portion of the moon’s upper limb remained visible, and of a yellowish green colour. For a quarter of an hour the moon remained almost entirely buried in the earth’s shadow, but still visible, the larger portion being of coppery glow, but towards the upper limb dissolving into orange, this again into blue, and the very small segment at the top into yellowish green. The appearance of the moon was now very peculiar, like a transparent body crossed by coloured zones, parallel to our horizon.

As time proceeded, the moon was seen slowly rising above the shadow (at one time looking like a crescent with its horns turned downward), and as more of the illumined surface came into view the colours gradually faded away, in reverse order, until the finally disappeared at 27 minutes after midnight, at the south-west edge of the disc, the obscuration having lasted just three hours six minutes. The obscuration of the moon made a very perceptible difference to the brilliancy of Jupiter, situated about to the west, and also to that of the stars which shone brightly all around, and two small ones within 15 degrees of the Moon itself. For a short time after eleven o’clock few clouds passed over the moon, and then the sky remained clear again to the end.

A total eclipse of the moon occurred some years ago, when, contrary to the expectation of several of us who were observing it, the moon’s disc remained visible as an ill-defined circle of coppery red, even when completely buried in the earth’s shadow. Remembering this made me desirous of watching the eclipse of last night, to see whether any similar phenomena would be displayed during a partial obscuration, and which I expected, because the eclipse was so nearly total. The appearances presented last night could be seen with the naked eye; but through the telescope we could also see the whole surface of the moon, and plainly distinguish the various spots, lines, and circular ranges of mountains so well known to astronomers.

The cause of the singular and beautiful appearances witnessed by last night was the refraction and decomposition of the sun’s light in passing through the earth’s atmosphere; but those desirous of investigating the subject will find it fully explained, on mathematical principles, in Herschell’s Outlines of Astronomy, sections 421, 422, 423, and 425. BARCLAY PHILLIPS. 75, Lansdowne Place, Brighton,

Wednesday 3 March 2021

The Earliest Thomas Cooke Advert I have Found So Far

 The Earliest Thomas Cooke Advert I Have Found So Far

Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 4th March 1837


Mathematical and Philosophical Instruments made and repaired on reasonable Terms.

Tuesday 2 March 2021

A Cooke finds a Moon of Jupiter in the Wrong Place


A Cooke finds a Moon of Jupiter in the Wrong Place.

The Rev R J Gould at Mortimer Vicarage in Reading using a 5 inch Thomas Cooke and Sons of York telescope and was observing Jupiter on October 7th 1868 at 11h and 43 mins when he noticed an error in the Nautical Almanac on page 480.

It stated that the 3rd satellite will be on the west side of its primary in company with the 2nd and 4th; The fact was that it was on the east side with satellite number 1. The places of 2 and 4 were right enough but number 3 was certainly not so.

Gould goes on to say that we have no right to expect even the Nautical almanac to be absolutely free from errors and misprints, but I should like to know whether others have observed this or whether it can be shown to have been a mistake on the part of myself.

During the following days several observers confirmed Gould’s observations that the satellite was in the wrong place.

Monday 1 March 2021

A Remarkable Meteor seen from York


A remarkable Meteor seen from York

J. Edmund Clark at York described a meteor he saw on March 1st 1896 at 8h and 31 mins, it travelled from beta to alpha Canis Minoris. The meteor lasted for 6.5 seconds. Other observations from observers suggest that the meteor came from a radiant point of 18 degrees and with a declination of +5, this is in the constellation of Pisces. This is a position where no meteor shower is known to exist.

Today I suspect this meteor would be classified as a sporadic.