Monday 30 August 2021

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 29 August 2021

Isaac Roberts old 7inch Cooke used to observe an occultation


In 1923 Mr Bower used the 7 inch Cooke telescope that had been attached to the 20 inch reflector used by Isaac Roberts to watch the occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon. He reported that when the central point of the star touched the limb of the Moon the star disappeared instantly

Thursday 26 August 2021

Wednesday 25 August 2021

It's nearly 50 years since the Mendip Astronomers stared to build their observatory


Cheddar Valley Gazette Friday 23rd February 1973

Digging begins for telescope

Mendip Astronomers meeting on Thursday last was mainly taken up discussing just what help members could be to Dr. Armitage with the construction of the Charterhouse observatory, and decided that the best thing would be to offer to do some digging for the initial stages of the building.

Dr. Armitage agreed that this would be a good idea, and members will meet on Sunday next at the site to start clearing it. It is hoped to film some of the various stages of the work.

The actual telescope is now completed and is being stored in Bridgwater awaiting the building of its housing. In fact it was shown on television last week when Patrick Moore was in Bridgwater. It is an f 7 Newtonian reflector mounted on a German equatorial mounting. The tube is eleven feet long and holds an eighteen inch diameter minor.

This mirror has been figured by Henry Wildey who is one of, if not the best astronomical mirror makers alive today, so it will be a superb mirror. It has three finders and a rotatable eyepiece holder which will make it very easy to use. It is also fitted with setting circles for locating celestial objects and is fully electrically driven.

Although it was very cold on Thursday evening, some of the more intrepid members of the group ventured outside to have a look at the moon and the planet Saturn through Mr. E. Beech's six inch telescope. Despite a slight haze, Saturn was seen quite well, with its rings wide open and Titan, the largest of its moons alongside it.

The moon, our moon that is, was too near full to show much detail, it is best seen when only partly illuminated when there are plenty of shadows bringing out the detail.

However, the rays from the ,craters Tycho, Copernicus and a few smaller ones stood out very well. These rays which fan out from the craters and cover vast areas of the Moon are thought to be material which has been ejected out of the craters during their formation.

There was a huge halo around the moon. This was caused by ice crystals in our upper atmosphere refracting the moonlight. It is under these conditions that we sometimes get the phenomenon known as "mock moons," a halo around the moon and four images of the moon above. below and to either side of the moon itself.

The next meeting will be on Thursday. March 1st , once again at Derek Randal's house 'Tregantle' in Milton Lane, Wells. New members are still coming along from time to time and anyone interested in astronomy is welcome.

The Radio Times and the Telescope that appeared over 100 years too early


You might be aware that I blogged on the 13th August that the BBC TV programme The Boleyns, showed Thomas Boleyn, the father of Anne using a telescope in the 1490s over 100 years before the instrument was invented.

I had tried to contact the production company without success so I sent a letter to the Radio Times and to my utter amazement my letter was published in the edition which begins on Saturday 28th August and for spotting this glaring error I even won a DVD.

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Telescope for sale from old Warwickshire A.S.

 I came across this advert regarding Warwickshire Astronomical Society which I believe is now the Coventry & Warwickshire Astronomical Society, was this person whose name was 'Osborne' a member?

Coventry Standard, Thursday 20th February 1969

6 inch NEWTONIAN Astro Telescope, Fuller, equatorial mount, electric drive, slow motion control, both axis, eye pieces etc. Fine instrument £50 ONO- Osborne c/o Warwickshire Astronomical Society, 

Monday 23 August 2021

Did this person become a member of Manchester A.S.?


Manchester Evening Press Thursday 3rd April 1958

For a long time I have been trying to get a telescope. Unfortunately, all the firms I have written to, including American ones, require a big deposit, which I cannot afford. Do please try to help me, I love astronomy but its not much good without a telescope. S.R.P Manchester 19

Why not join the Manchester Astronomical Society, which has the use of the Godlee Observatory on certain nights? This contains an 8 inch refractor with a 6 inch Star Field camera attached and a 12 inch reflector on the same mounting. Visits to other observatories and places of astronomical interest are arranged and there is an extensive library.

Mr S .W. R. Mottran of 30 Hartington Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester 21, one of the joint honorary secretaries would give you further particulars.

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.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

The Bolyens on BBC2 and a telescope in the 1490s??

 If anyone has watched the Boleyns on BBC 2 they would have seen during  episode 1 Thomas Boleyn the father of Anne Bolyen using  a telescope to watch a hawk, OK except that this was in the 1490s over 100 years before the invention of the telescope.!!!!!! 

I am not sure  what references the researchers used. 

Monday 16 August 2021

Jupiter seen in 1869 from Manchester


Mr H. Ormesher of Manchester witnessed the partial transit of the 3rd satellite on the night of August 14th 1869. The satellite was visible as a bright spot 15 minutes after first contact.

On the night of the 24th August 1869 the 2nd satellite was observed during its ingress.

Mr Ormesher says “After first contact the satellite appeared to linger for some time” A somewhat analogous phenomenon is noticed on page 141 of Webb’s Celestial Objects,

Friday 13 August 2021

A lot of cloud and only a few Perseids

 I managed to observe from midnight until 01.30 on the morning of August 13th (BST) until cloud cover prevented further observations and saw very few meteors, only 7 Perseids, 1 iota Aquarid and 1 sporadic, I was surprised in the very low number of meteors seen.  

It will be interesting to find out what other observers saw and also to find out what the radio astronomers detected last night with the Perseids.


Thursday 12 August 2021

More solar observing with a Cooke


A . M. Newbegin, Sutton, Surrey. 6-inch Cooke photo-visual equatorial refractor, Evershed prism spectroscope.—Work on the height and position of the solar prominence s has been continued on the same lines as in former years. The results for 1923 indicate that the solar minimum is past, and the activity is now on the upgrade. There is still no great activity in the prominence as a whole, but at intervals metallic outbursts of some strength have been observed. A detailed account of the observation s for the year is being prepared for publication. The new high-power spectroscope is nearly ready for final adjustment.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Solar observing with a Cooke


Mr. A. M. Newbegin, observing at Sutton, Surrey, with a Cooke photo-visual equatorial refractor and modified Evershed spectroscope, has continued his regular programme as in former years, recording the position-angles and heights of solar prominences. The results for 1922 were published in the B.A.A. Journal, Vol. 33, No. 6.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Scottish Cooke for Sale


The Scotsman Saturday 12th April 1924

Costly astronomical telescope with 5.5 inch aperture with equatorial mounting and case as new by T. Cooke and Sons York and London, with camera, microscope and special eye pieces which belonged to the late G J G Todd, Gowan Lean, Newhaven Road.

Monday 9 August 2021

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.

The Covid Constellations


There are 88 constellations in the night sky and now experts from the World Health Organisation are considering using the names of these constellations to denote possible new future strains of the covid virus.

At present the Greek alphabet is used to denote the covid variations, there are only 24 letters in the Greek alphabet compared to 26 in the English alphabet.

In the future, rather than the alpha or beta variants there might be the Orion, Taurus or Camelopardalis variants!!

Another Liverpool Cooke for Sale


Pall Mall Gazette Friday 2nd January 1885

Astronomical Observatory with Telescope and Appointments Complete

To be SOLD, a bargain, on account of the owner’s eyesight, an excellent equatorial-mounted TELESCOPE by Cooke, 4.5 inch diam; Dawes solar and numerous other eyepieces, micrometer, induction coil and battery, automatic and star spectroscope, spark condenser, clock by Cooke, barometer 7-10 diam, observing chair, complete sets of the memoirs and monthly notices of the RAS Astronomical Register and Observatory, with indexes, and a number of other astronomical works, all in the best possible condition. The above presents a very rare opportunity to astronomical students.

Address “Telescope”, care of Lee and Nightingale, Advertising Agents, Liverpool

Sunday 8 August 2021

A Cooke for sale in Liverpool


Liverpool Daily Post Thursday 5th August 1875

Second hand astronomical telescope for sale by the late Mr Cooke of York. 

G S Wood (late Abraham &Co ) Opticians 20 Lord Street, Liverpool.

Friday 6 August 2021

Will Hay, the White Spot on Saturn and a Cooke


August 3rd 1933 Will Hay discovers White Spot on Saturn

Although best known as a comedy actor of British films in the 1930s Will Hay was also a very competent amateur astronomer who used a Thomas Cooke of York 6 in telescope from his home in London.

On August 3rd 1933 he discovered a white spot on the planet Saturn, this was the first white spot seen on the ringed planet since 1903 the next would not be until 1960. The white spots on Saturn are storms similar to the red spot on Jupiter.

The difference being that the red spot on Jupiter has been since constantly for several hundred years, the white spots on Saturn only appear occasionally

Thursday 5 August 2021

Meteorite impact in Yorkshire 35 million years ago


The Silver Pit Crater was formed around 35 million years ago scientists announced in August 2002. It was smaller than the one that killed the dinosaurs but it is very important to us because it is not only the first impact crater identified in or near Britain, but it’s a Yorkshire meteorite crater!

The meteorite would have been travelling at about 25 miles per second when it struck the Earth, and was about 120 metres across and weighed around 2 million tons, it crashed into what is now the North Sea about 60 miles off the Yorkshire coast, this I think is close enough to be classified as Yorkshire!

This impact would have devastated the area around what is now Britain, northern Europe and Scandinavia. The crater which is called the Silver Pit Crater is about 1.5 miles wide. At the time that the meteorite struck this area was still under about 150 metres of water, the crater is now located about 0.5 miles under the sea bed covered by shale and sand. The name Silver pit comes from a long valley called the Silver Pit Valley which is in the bed of the North Sea.

It was discovered in 2002 by a company looking for new oil and gas fields. While looking for these resources the oil and gas companies produce three-dimensional maps which tell them whether or not it is worth drilling in the area. It was during the course of this routine exploration that the data collected indicated that there was a crater below the sea bed in the North Sea. The 3D map shows a spectacular set or rings sweeping out around the crater.

Silver Pit Crater

There are suggestions that the ring like structures of the crater that have been discovered are rare on craters discovered on Earth, however they do appear to be similar to those that are seen on Europa and Calisto two of the large icy moons that orbit Jupiter. These are moons that scientists speculate could be places where life might exist in our solar system. Europa and Calisto are two of the four large moons that were discovered by Galileo back in 1609 when he first used his telescope to look at the night sky. The other two moons he discovered are Io and Ganymede.

It all depends on what is under the icy surface of these moons, and we can’t be certain yet, however there could be could be some kind of layered briny ocean, scientists believe that under the Silver Pit crater, there are layers of shale. It could possibly be that these layers are causing these ring features both on Jupiter’s moons and around the Silver Pit crater. The theory being put forward is that is that it is this layering effect below the surface that causes these rings to appear. I wonder if it is possible that by studying this 35 million year old Yorkshire crater scientists can try to better understand what is going on under two of the large moons of Jupiter which are over 480 million miles away!

The astrognome has become the rambling astronomer

 It has been thought necessary by honourable number 2 son to change my name from the astrognome to the rambling astronomer. 

Apparently because I spend endless time just rambling. Therefore from now on all my blogs will be issued under the rambling astronomer. 

I hope that makes sense !!

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Update on the William Coleman/ TER Philips Cooke


The Coleman Cooke becomes the Rev TER Phillips Cooke then the Port Elizabeth 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 which was made around 1891. His main interest was in double stars.

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.

William Coleman also had a smaller 4 inch Cooke and Sons telescope plus other accessories which were sold by auction after his death.

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 Ashtead 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.

The Rev TER Philips died in 1942 but the story of the Coleman/Philips telescope continued. In 1947 a group of people the Port Elizabeth Astronomical Society in South Africa wanted to establish an observatory there. By 1948 the money needed had been raised and the telescope went to Port Elizabeth. Originally housed in a run off shed by 1953 it was housed in an observatory and at the time was the largest telescope in South Africa used for public viewing nights.

The telescope was used through until the 21st century when a combination of lack of ageing membership and light pollution plus the age of the telescope meant that it was used less and less. With the possibility of it being scrapped. The the Antique Telescope Society came to the rescue and through their help Daniel Mobati of Oakland California in 2016 purchased the 8 inch Cooke telescope with the plane to have the telescope fully restored and placed in an observatory in the San Francisco Bay area. As of 2021 I do not know if the project has yet been completed.