Monday 26 July 2021

The Travels of a 9 inch Cooke Telescope


In the Carter Observatory in Wellington New Zealand is a 9.75 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope that has a wonderful history.

It was originally made for Edward Crossley of Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1867 as a 9.3 inch telescope, it was used extensively by Crossley and his assistant Joseph Gledhill, with important observations of Mars and Jupiter being made. The 9.3 inch was also used in double star measurements and lead to be of the most important early catalogues on double stars by Crossley, Gledhill and James Wilson of Rugby.

The 9.3 inch Cooke in Halifax

In 1896 a new photo visual lens was place in the telescope tube, it was slightly small at 9 inches. On the death of Crossley in 1905 and the retirement of Gledhill the telescope was sold to the Rev David Kennedy on the north island of New Zealand at Meeanee, where an observatory was opened in 1907.

By 1924 the telescope had been sold again to the Wellington City Council and was installed in a tin shed rather than a proper observatory due to a lack of money.

However a local farmer and business man Charles Rooking Carter left in his will in 1896 a sum of £2240 to build an observatory. The observatory was built in Wellington and opened in December 1941, however due to the war very little happened until 1945.

Since then the Cooke telescope has been extensively used and was retired from research work in 1971. In 1975 it was discovered that the chemicals inside the lens were unstable and over time would damage the lens. In 2001 a new lens this time 9.75 inches was installed.

The 9.75 inch Cooke in Wellington

Today the telescope is still used for public open evenings and is a testament to the telescopes built be Thomas Cooke that a telescope he made in 1867 is still working today.

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