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.,

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