Wednesday 30 June 2021

Australian Cooke and Saturn


Ernest Wunderlich at the Wyone Observatory, Port Hacking which is about 14 miles south of Sydney observed the occultation of Saturn by the moon on March 14th 1917. The telescope used was a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope.

The sky was at the commencement of occultation was, owing to slight haze, rather more luminous than usual, and this caused the loss of the “inner edge of ring” and “first limb” of the ball at ingress. At egress the definition was all that could be desired, but the first edge of ring was decidedly outside the Moon’s illuminated edge before it was noticed, and thus was “lost”.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Australian Cooke and Mars


James Nangle at Marrickville in New South Wales using a 6.25 inch telescope which I have recently discovered was a Thomas Cooke rather that a Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope observed Mars in 1909.

He described the darkish areas to have a greenish tinge, with the Mars Cimmerium and Syrtis Major looking like the tops of trees in an Australian valley when seen from the top of a mountain. The northern snows were also well seen. There appeared none of the canals that had been drawn by Schiaparelli or Lowell.

On almost all occasions when a great increase in definition was required a screen of mosquito net was placed immediately in front of the object glass. Such a screen is evidently a good idea, since it slightly reduces the glare without interfering with the separating power, that vital point in all detailed planetary observations.

Monday 28 June 2021

The Constellation Podcast

 I have been have been messing around producing a series of astronomy podcasts and in case you have not heard them I have attached a link to this blog. 

Here are the 88 constellations with an introduction. Happy listening!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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.

Australian Cookes and p Eridani


The star p Eridani (not rho) is one of the most interesting double stars in the southern hemisphere. It is a double stars that had been observed since 1826.

Two astronomers making observations up until 1908, Mr Nangle using a 6.5 inch telescope and Mr Hirst using a 4.5 inch telescope both made by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York, agree that the distance between the two components of p Eridani are getting closer.

Today we know that the system contains 2 K class main sequence stars orbiting each other every 475 years.

Sunday 27 June 2021

Australian Cookes and alpha Centauri


Alpha Centauri one of the leading double stars in the southern hemisphere was observed by G D Hirst using his 4.25 inch Cooke telescope and James Nangle using his 6.25 inch Cooke telescope in Australia in June and July 1906.

Friday 25 June 2021

Australian Cooke and Saturn


A Dark Transit of Titan

On November 5th / 6th 1907 Mr A B Cobham and Mr G D Hirst using a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Son telescope saw a dark spot on Saturn. This was afterwards ascertained to be Titan.

They also both commented that they caught glimpse of the edge of the ring at flashes, the impression indicating the extreme fineness and delicacy of the rings when seen edgewise.

Thursday 24 June 2021

Australian Cooke and Nova Aquila 1918

Mr Edward Gardiner of Haverfield, Sydney NSW using a 6 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope made some beautiful drawings of the spectrum of Nova Aquilae. On June 13th 1918 when observing the object, he noticed it was attended by a small close companion; this was conformed by Mr Stutt at Richmond and partly by Mr Nangle at Enmore. Mr Gardiner also detected a reversal of the Ha line on June 14th

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Australian Cooke


York Herald Thursday 22nd March 1877

Important Astronomical Observations by means of a York telescope

Strange news has been recently received from an Australian observatory (Adelaide). It might be described as revolutionising our ideas respecting the largest of the planets, were it not that the careful study of much older observations had already led the more advanced students of astronomy to adopt the theory which has now been demonstrated by direct observation.

Adelaide Observatory late 19th century

During the last eight or none years the belief has been gaining ground that the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are in a state of intense heat and enwrapped in atmospheres of enormous depth and density. In fact it may be said that according to the new theory we never see the actual body of either Jupiter or Saturn, but only the outermost surfaces of the cloud layers; the real surfaces lying, not a few miles, or a few hundred miles but several thousand miles below the cloud surface measured by astronomers.

It has been shown that all the phenomena presented by the two gas giants planets correspond with this theory, whereas not one in ten can be explained by the older theory.

Fortunately in the case of Jupiter, we have evidence we have evidence from the Adelaide Observatory where a fine (8 inch) telescope by T Cooke & Sons of York has been erected, and where a singular purity of air greatly assists astronomical observation, two practised observers (Mr Todd and Mr Ringwood) on two different occasions, both observing on each occasion saw the nearest of Jupiter’s satellites through the outer layer of the planet’s cloud laden atmosphere, which must, therefore, of necessity, be at least 2,000 miles in depth.


In his book ‘Flowers in the Sky’ Richard Proctor makes references to this observation by Mr Todd and Mr Ringwood.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Partial solar eclipse seen with a Cooke


Partial solar eclipse of Sun May 28th 1900

The eclipse was observed using the G J Newbegin 9 inch Cooke telescope with a power of 75 by Mrs Newbegin and Rev T E R Phillips using the projection method. The image produced was 4.2 inches in diameter.

Monday 21 June 2021

W M Baxter, a Cooke and a partial eclipse of the Moon


W M Baxter used a 5 inch Cooke equatorial in Edinburgh to observe a series of occultations of stars during the partial eclipse of the Moon on the night of 16th-17th December 1899. He observed 10 stars before fog and cloud prevented further observations.

Sunday 20 June 2021

A large Cooke looks at Mars


Mars -

Mr V. Cerulli reports his observations made at Teramo, in the Bulletin of the Belgian Astronomical Society, and accompanies his account with a chart and 11 drawings made between December 1896 and January 7, 1897, with a 15½-in. Cooke refractor. 

He remarks that the canals appeared hardly thinner on a disk of 7 " (July 1896), than they were on the disk of 17" (December) and, therefore, supposes that the lines become thicker as Mars travels away. He also found that lines that appeared dark and distinct when near the limb became fainter and narrower when on the meridian.

Friday 18 June 2021

A Cooke and a Vicar in Berkshire


In 1896 the Rev J H Jenkinson of St Mary’s vicarage Reading, Berks described a series of sunspot drawings he had made between February and August of that year. He used a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke of York telescope.

Thursday 17 June 2021

The Chi Perseus Cluster photographed on a Cooke mount



Sir Robert Ball and Mr. Arthur Rambaut have published in Vol. XXX. , Part IV, of the " Transactions of the Royal Irish Society," the relative positions of 223 stars in this cluster as deduced from photographic measures. Th e negative was exposed for 10 minutes, and rectangular co-.ordinates of the stars were measured in a micrometer similar to that used by Prof. Pritchard at Oxford. On comparing the declinations with those of Vogel, a small difference is apparent owing to a slightly altered position of the fundamental star. There is a slight systematic difference between the right ascensions as determined by Pihl and those of the Irish astronomers, probably due to the different methods employed for finding the parallels. Th e memoir also includes a map showing the position of the stars plotted directly from the x and y co-.ordinates.

The astro-.photograph used was a 15-inch silver-on-glass reflector mounted according to Cooke's standard equatorial pattern.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Jupiter seen with a Cooke in Australia in 1896



I am glad to be able to report that observing conditions generally have been very good with us since the beginning of last month, and that at least one other member besides myself has taken advantage of the good seeing to make drawings of Jupiter. I am unfortunately divorced from my observatory for some months, but have with me in the country an excellent 5-in. Cooke altazimuth as well as accurate time.

I have never hitherto prosecuted a careful and continuous study of the giant planet's surface, and confess to great surprise at the vast and rapid changes that become apparent. This especially struck me first in the case of the N. equatorial belt, the northern and equatorial components of which exhibited alternately dark masses and condensations, divided by white spots after intervals of only five Jovian rotations. On March 13 and 14 there were typical instances of this. On March 26, 20h 40m, G.M.T., a faint wisp across the equator, was conspicuous, and next night, March 28, 2h 20m G.M.T., was invisible, while the equatorial region near the c.m. showed considerable change. Definition excellent, 4 to 5 on both occasions, power 200. The N. temperate area, however, has puzzled me most, for the three belts often seen have varied much both in visibility and latitude, while with exquisite definition on April 1, at 0h 20m G.M.T., the following portion seemed overlaid with vapour of a sage green tint, and the belts (2) were only faintly visible in their preceding parts, The Red Spot has been well seen on several occasions of almond shape, the f. end slightly more pointed than the p. Its tint seemed uniform, and a very delicate brick red, like a faint stain. It is overlaid on the S. side by the S. temperate belt, which is closely double through nearly its whole extent, and f. from the centre of the Red Spot is much darkened and sinuous. The great spot's preceding end was estimated on c.m. at 1h 15m G.M.T., April 1, and the following end on c.m. at 21h 52m 36s G.M.T. of same date. In the transit of Satellite I. on February 22, observed at Waverley, near Sydney, with my equatorial, the shadow must have been occulted by the satellite, which is perhaps worthy of note.


Tuesday 15 June 2021

Isaac Roberts, M33 and a 5 inch Cooke


NEBULAS.—In KN., p. 158, there is a photograph by Dr. Isaac Roberts of the region of the spiral nebula Messier 33 Trianguli. The centre of the plate is about R.A. 1h 2 8M , Dec. N. 30° 7', and the area of the sky covered is 8.1° from N. to S. and 6.1° from preceding to following, the nebula being in the centre.

The photograph was taken with the Cooke 5-in. lens on November 14, 1895, with exposure of the plate during 2 h 15m . 

Monday 14 June 2021

Occultation of Antares seen from Australia with a Cooke


The occultation of Antares, 1896, May 10.

Mr. Tebbutt obtained excellent determinations of the times of disappearance and reappearance, which agreed very closely with the calculations of Mr. Joseph Brooks, and indicated the probable correctness of the adopted longitude of the Windsor Observatory and of the tabular places of the moon and star. Antares did not disappear instantaneously in Mr. Tebutt's observation, but seemed to cut its way into the moon's disk during two or three seconds, a peculiarity also noted by Mr. Merfield.

Mr. Gale, on the contrary, using a 6 inch Cooke refractor, at Paddington, New South Wales recorded the disappearance as instantaneous on contact with the limb. In spite of thick haze, the " comes " was also visible to within a few seconds of the limb, and was seen immediately on the reappearance of the larger star. Messrs. Innes, Wright, and Matthews had also observed the disappearance as almost instantaneous.

Sunday 13 June 2021

A Cooke in Norfolk


The Partial Lunar Eclipse of May 11-12, 1892. By G. J. NEWBEGIN, F.R.A.S.

The night of May 11-12 turned out so exceptionally clear and fine that (though in 16 ° of Declination) the moon soon became a steady object in the telescope. With regard to the eclipse I decided to take a series of photographs at about half-hour intervals, and to endeavour to secure a permanent record of its several stages. The exposures were made at 9.20, 9.50, 10.30, 11, 11.30 p.m., 12 o'clock midnight, and 12.30 a.m. The periods of exposure were varied, to allow for the decreasing illumination of the moon, viz. :— 20s 20s 30s 40s 30s 20s 20s respectively.

The plates were the Ilford ordinary, developed by hydroquinone. The instrument by which they were taken is a 9-inch Cooke equatorial, aperture reduced to 2-inch for the whole series. The intervals between the exposures were occupied in developing the plates.

Thorpe, Norwich, Nov. 11, 1892.

Saturday 12 June 2021

An Italian Cooke



This observatory in Sicily which was completed in 1890 is principally for astrophysics, celestial photography, meteorology and seismology. There is a 6-inch Cooke fitted with photographic apparatus; Huggins's apparatus for photographing the solar corona; Mascart's apparatus for photographing atmospherical electricity, &c.

Friday 11 June 2021

The Cooke worker and the till robbery


York Herald Saturday 16th March 1867

Till Robbery

Henry Petch of Market Street, York a mechanic of Messrs Cooke and Sons, was charged with stealing 2 shillings from a till in the George Inn Tap, Coney Street, York. On the previous evening the defendant entered the tap and asked for liquor. He was served, after which James Allen, the occupant of the place, went up stairs. When he came down, from certain suspicions he examined the till and found that a 2 shilling piece had been stolen.

He went out to fetch a policeman upon which the prisoner,- who was the only person who had been in the place, ran away. He was found concealed in a corner in a yard behind the tap, and thence was taken away into custody. The prosecutor stated that he had been similarly robbed before, and his suspicions had fallen upon the prisoner as the thief. In defence the prisoner said he was innocent, and had only gone into the yard behind the tap for his convenience.

The bench were of the opinion, however that he was guilty of theft, and sentenced hi to be imprisoned in the House of Correction for 14 days.

Thursday 10 June 2021

A Cooke for Borrowstouness Scotland


The Scotsman Saturday 1st February 1896

Saturday 15th February at 12 o’clock at Dowdells, 38 George Street


Comprising magnificent equatorial refracting telescope on massive cast-iron pillar by T. Cooke & Sons , York with 5-inch object glass and set of negative and kelner eyepieces, with solar and star diagonals and Barlow Lens with driving clock, declination and right ascension circles, divided on silver , 28 inch polar axis; large altitude and azimuth instrument , with vertical and horizontal circles, 36-in. diameter, graduated to 5 minutes of arc, with eight reading microscopes with micrometers; transit on stone piers with telescope three and one eigth inch diameter , 46 inch focal length, refracting telescope 4 inch clear aperture , 7 inch. sextant; two fine regulator sidereal clocks by miller, electric clock by Shepherd and Bain, fine ship ' s chronometer by Millidge, projection and solar microscopes , spectroscope by Duboscq fine chemical balance by Oertling,Becker & Dunn; a large lot of object glasses , electric appliances , chemical apparatus , Bunsen battery mercury. Select library astronomical works by Pearson, Chauvenet, Brunnows and Toomis R A S monthly notices , &e.

Full particulars in Descriptive Catalogue , which is in preparation .


This telescope was purchased by Frederick Hughes from Thomas Cooke in May 1865.

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Cooke and the Chinese Minister


Yorkshire Evening Post Saturday 2nd December 1899


The Chinese Minister has been visiting several industrial establishment in York. At Messrs. Cooke's instrument works he inspected the largest telescope. It is an eight-inch equatorial telescope, ranged for both photographic and visual purposes, with electric control and mouse-feed slow motions," said one of the experts to a journalist, who inquired what his Excellency knew about the matter. "Oh”, said this expert, “He knows all about already - all about this kind of telescope, I mean. Whtat interests him now is our latest complications."

HIS EXCELLENCY TAKES NOTES. He commanded an attache to give him a note-book, and wrote details about the wonderful telescope.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Cooke and the Yorkshire Exhibition


York Herald Saturday 8th September 1866

The Yorkshire Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition

From the Daily Telegraph

Messrs T Cooke and Sons of the Buckingham Works, York who have supplied the building with a turret clock are famed for the excellence of their telescopes as well as for the certain qualities of horology known to the learned therein.

Monday 7 June 2021

The Cooke Clinometer


York Herald Saturday 25th November 1865

A New Clinometer

We (Bombay Builder) have had the pleasure of seeing a most compact and useful clinometer and manufactured by Messrs T Cooke & Sons London and York. We understand the government intends to issue them to the public works department; and we have every reason to believe that the instrument will be generally made use of by the railway and other professional men for trial work.

A gentleman who has used the instrument says, “It is impossible to over rate the advantage of this instrument, A trial path, which would have required weeks to set out by chain and level as it would have been necessary to cut down the jungle and make platforms for the instrument to stand on, was marked out in a few days and with quite as much accuracy.

The only mistakes that can arise are from the accidental slipping of one of the cross pieces , or from moving one of the radial arms of the instrument. It is only requisite to take a glance at the face of the instrument while the hand rests upon the criss piece, to ensure its accuracy. The ease and quickness with which the instrument was used made the marking out of the trail path a pleasure to the observer, who would feel like Pegasus deprived of his wings if he had to do another under similar circumstances with level and chain instead of clinometer.

Sunday 6 June 2021

Thomas Cooke and the rotation of the Earth


York Herald Saturday 3rd May 1851

The Rotation of the Earth proved in York Minster

We have the pleasure to announce that, by means of very simple apparatus, constructed and set up by our clever optician Mr T Cooke, the experiment of the Earth’s rotation has been very successfully performed in York. The arrangement was made by Mr Cooke in the north western tower of the minster, over the ‘ringing floor’, which was graduated for the purpose.

The pendulum weight was suspended by wire, 52 feet long, and was made to commence its vibrations in a north and south direction. In experiments of this kind, it is important to avoid irregularities of motion, twist of the suspending wire, and rotation of the pendulum ball. All this was accomplished , and the weight swung with perfect steadiness in its original sidereal plane, while the Earth revolving below it and leaving it behind, carried the meridian line in which the pendulum was set to swing, gradually and imperceptibly away, till at the end of one hour of mean time, ibis meridian differed from the line described by the pendulum on the floor 13 degrees.

By calculation for the latitude of York,, the deviation ought to have been a little above 12 degrees. The excess is probably due to the effects of air currents, and for very delicate results this may require glass screens tom the pendulum, but nothing could be more satisfactory than the general character of the mechanical proof afforded by this experiment, that the Earth turns round on its axis- a point once stoutly and imprudently denied by very learned and powerful persons, in the days of Galileo.

Saturday 5 June 2021

Rothschild and a Cooke


A report from 1889 says that Baron Albert von Rothschild’s observatory within the precincts of his palace is a bijou. A splendid equatorial by Thomas Cooke & Sons with a 9 inch aperture, to which the Baron has fitted notions of his own. Observations of double stars are made by him, and astronomers may in a year or two receive published results. Dr Palisa is the Baron’s court astronomer.

Friday 4 June 2021

A Cooke in Argentina

 A Cooke in Argentina

For the year 1908, a fine set of drawings had been sent by Mr Barnett of Rosario, Argentina made with his 4 inch Cooke & Sons telescope of the Sun. A close examination of the Stoneyhurst drawings shows an almost exact agreement in the sun spot groups delineated.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Apprentice needed at Cookes


Yorkshire Gazette April 26th 1851

T Cooke, Optical and Mathematical Instrument maker 12, Coney Street, York is in want of Youth as an APPRENTICE

Wednesday 2 June 2021

A Cooke in India


Civil and Military Gazette (Lahore) Saturday 3rd January 1891

For sale Owner leaving India

An equatorial telescope of 6 inches aperture by T Cooke & Sons, York driven by clockwork, with stellar and solar eyepieces.

Also the revolving roof or dome (16 feet diameter) of sheet zinc on teak framing, covering the telescope.

H B Hederstedt, late Chief Engineer of the Oude and Rohilkund Railway, Lucknow

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Lick Earthquake 1891


Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser

Monday 5th January 1891

Severe Earthquake at San Francisco, Lick Observatory Damaged

A San Francisco telegram from Reuter on Saturday says:- two shocks of earthquake were felt here at noon today. Professor Holden reports from the Lick Observatory that the earthquake was the most severe experienced in northern California since 1868. The ceilings of the observatory were cracked, the plaster falling to the floor. The large equatorial telescope is however believed to be uninjured.