Monday 30 May 2022

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 Walter Goodacre 10 inch Cooke


In the journal of the British Astronomical Society from May 1938 there was an advertisement for a 10 inch Thomas Cooke telescope offered by the executers of the late Walter Goodacre FRAS: together with an  observatory with a 20 foot dome by Reid of Manchester. 

Price £500 or would sell telescope separately. There is also a sidereal clock by Home, Thornthwaite & Wood.

Saturday 28 May 2022

1860 Lunar occultation of Jupiter seen from Manchester


I have come across a report from Saturday May 26th 1860 of an occultation of Jupiter by the Moon observed from Manchester.

The occultation began at 4.34 pm and I quote “ Jupiter should have appeared at 6.13 pm but had not, this could be due to superfluous light above and below. By 7.00 pm I could distinguish Jupiter easily. I observed Jupiter until 8.00 pm when it became cloudy”.

A F Goddard,

Bury New Road, Manchester

Friday 27 May 2022

758 Mancuria


On May 18th 1912 Harry Edwin Wood who was chief assistant at the Union Observatory in South Africa discovered an asteroid, it was named Mancuria after the city in which he was born, Manchester. He would discover 12 asteroids between 1911-1932.

Mancuria is the Latin name for Manchester

Thursday 26 May 2022

Rev. Howlett and a Cooke telescope mounting


The Rev Frederick Howlett FRAS (1821-1908) purchased in 1865 a plain equatorial mounting from Thomas Cooke & Sons, it was made to carry either a 4 or 5 inch telescope. At the time that the mounting was ordered he was living at the St Augustone’s Parsonage , Hurst Green , Sussex.

Howlett used a 3 inch Dollond telescope, I am not sure when he purchased this telescope but it was before 1863. During the 1860s-1880s he used this small telescope to make extensive observations of sunspots.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Scriven Bolton and the Japan British Exhibition of 1910


Scriven Bolton 1883-1929 is a Yorkshire astronomer whose life and work is hardly known yet his contributions in particular in the field of astronomical illustrations were incredible and his work almost certainly influenced the famous American space scientist Chesley Bonestell.

Bolton was honoured with the award of the Gold Medal at the Franco British exhibition in 1908 and in 1910 was presented with a diploma at the Japan British exhibition. In 1924 he was elected as a fellow of the royal society of arts.

Born in 1883 Thomas Simeon Scriven Bolton he inherited his mother’s maiden surname and was always known as Scriven. His father was a mill owner from Yeadon near Leeds. At the time of his birth the woollen textile business was thriving. A small recession in the early 1890 meant that his father took a aprt share in a mineral oil merchanting business, and the family moved to Waterloo Lodge an out of town villa in Bramley Leeds. Scriven followed his father into the business and it was a t Waterloo Lodge that he would build his large observatory housing his 26 inch reflector.

Scriven must have had an interest in astronomy from a young age because in 1899 at the age of 16 he joined the Leeds Astronomical Society. By 1906 his skills of drawing were such that he was sending drawings of the planet Jupiter to the astronomer royal William Christie. It was around this time that his work attracted attention from within the commercial world. He was soon sending astronomical drawings to the Illustrated London News, The New York Times, popular Science Monthly, the Sphere, The Graphic, Science and Invention, National Geographic and the Yorkshire Post. Plus numerous contributions to the English Mechanic. He drawings also appeared in the journals of the British Astronomical Association , The Royal astronomical society of which he was a fellow and of course Leeds AAS.

There is no definite list of the various publishing houses and authors who used his work, but the ones we know of include Chambers’s Astronomy, Hutchinsons Splendour of the Heavens and HH turner’s A Voyage in Space.

His drawings include those of the Earth and other bodies in the solar system, Bolton’s work clearly influenced Chesley Bonestell the legendary American space artist. Bonestell copied Bolton’s idea of making a 3 d plaster model and then photograph the models as a basis for their illustrations. This is the early 20th century version of CGI.

With his observations of the sky he made an observatory the so called Waterloo Observatory which housed his 26 inch reflector together wit a 10 inch reflector and a 6 inch 1908 the University made available its new Cecil Duncombe observatory on Woodhouse Moor, Florence Taylor the Yorkshire astronomer had donated £100 to the building of the observatory. Scriven Bolton was only one of two members of Leeds AS who were allowed time on the 18 inch telescope. Scriven’s home was within easy walking distance of this observatory.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Josepeh Baxendell and the Blaze Star


The Manchester based astronomer Joseph Baxendell (1815-1887) who was a prolific observer of variable stars discovered one of the most famous nova, T Corona Borealis or as it became known as the ‘Blaze Star’.

I should mention that the star was also observed by the Iris astronomer John Birmingham.

On May 12th 1866 he saw the star at magnitude 2.0, nova were not new, they had been observed by astronomers before, this star was followed until it faded from view. However what made this star so famous was that it went nova again on February 9th 1946. Although other stars had been observed to go through the nova process more than once, T Corona Borealis was by far the brightest, hence it’s name the ‘Blaze Star’.

Astronomers watching the star today wonder when it will next blaze forth and become a nova for a third time.

Monday 23 May 2022

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.

Venus observed from Manchester in 1871


Mr Henry Ormesher of Manchester has frequently observed the planet Venus during the last few months. He has on several occasions succeeded in detecting the dark markings. 

He says - ‘May 10th 1871  the markings were clear and well defined and remind me very much of the planet Mars, having much the same appearance’. On May 21st and May 29th he also saw dusky markings on the planet’s surface with his 5.25 inch refractor.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Cooke sees Halley's Comet in 1910

Between April 11th and June 3rd 1910 Halley's comet was observed and photographed from the Transvaal Government Observatory in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The photographs were taken using the 10 inch Cooke telescope that had originally been made for John Franklin Adams who made a full sky survey between 1904-1908 using a number  of Cooke telescopes and Cooke cameras. 

Saturday 21 May 2022

An expensive 10 inch Cooke


Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 7th May 1881

York Exhibition

In the space intervening between the central and Great Halls, a large equatorial mounted telescope which stands 15 feet high is exhibited by Messrs T Cooke & Sons York opticians, the instrument which is an object of curiosity with an object glass of 10 inches.

The sale price is £1200 (my note; today that telescope would cosy nearly £150,000)

Friday 20 May 2022

Liverpool's Lost Synchrocyclotron


I came across this today and I never knew about this.

Taken from the May 2022 issue of Physics World.

Liverpool’s lost synchrocyclotron

In 1951, Liverpool, UK, was still marked by bomb damage from the Second World War. Nevertheless, led by Nobel-prizewinning physicist James Chadwick, the city’s university managed to construct a world-leading synchrocyclotron. Built into the Earth underneath the crypt of the city’s partially built cathedral, it was the first of its type that allowed the beam of accelerated particles to be directed at an outside target. By 1968, it was supplanted by machines at CERN in Geneva, and no trace of it remains.

A 15 inch Cooke for Brussels


Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 15th May 1880

A York Telescope for Brussels Observatory

Messrs T Cooke & Sons, opticians of this city, had the honour some time ago of receiving an order from the Belgium Government for an equatorial mounting for a telescope with an object glass of 15 inches diameter, which is to be placed in the Royal Observatory Brussels.

The work has just been completed, and the instrument presents a fine specimen of mechanical art and skill. The tube about 21 feet in length, and the stand 13 feet high. The instrument is fitted with all the latest appliances, including clockwork of very delicate construction by which the telescope caused to follow the movement of the star on which it is fixed. The firm expect to pack and forward the instrument towards the end of the month.

York Herald Saturday 15th May 1880

The telescope for the Belgium Government may be inspected by those whose who are interested.

Thursday 19 May 2022

T Cooke & Sons and the Telephone


A Grand Military Concerts will be given the De Grey Rooms , York  on Monday 13th May 1878 in aid for the funds providing a clock with Westminster chimes and bells for the church of Holy Trinity, Heworth, York.

Messrs T Cooke and Sons will be exhibiting the Telephone during the interval of 15 minutes.

Messrs T Cooke and Sons, York will exhibit and give illustrations of the TELEPHONE and if possible they will also exhibit the latest wonder THE PHONOGRAPH

Wednesday 18 May 2022

A lift from Cookes


York Herald Wednesday 23rd December 1874

York City and County Bank

The spacious new and enlarged bank offices in Parliament Street, York which have been in progress of erection during the last eighteen months, for the use of this company, will be opened to the public for business on Monday morning next. The present bank was erected in 1835.

Below there is ample strong room accommodation which is connected to the bank by means of ingenious hydraulic lifts, provided by Messrs T Cooke and Sons.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Darlington Clock repaired by Cooke & Sons


York Herald Saturday 3rd July 1869

It was decided by Darlington Town Council to place the repair and cleaning of the town clock in the hands of Messrs Cooke and sons of York.

Monday 16 May 2022

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.

A Cooke in Canada


Dr J C Donaldson of Fergus, Ontario, Canada using a 3.5 inch Thomas Cooke telescope obtained a glimpse of the 9th magnitude star in Cancer just before it was occulted by Jupiter on May 22nd 1896.

Several other observers had attempted to watch the occultation in Canada many with much larger telescopes but were unsuccessful.

Saturday 14 May 2022

A Cooke for Greenwich


London Daily News Thursday 8th March 1888

An Addition to Greenwich Observatory.

FLAMSTEED’S famous institution on Greenwich Hill has been crowned with another dome. Nine or ten years ago Professor GREENE of the Polytechnic Institute at Troy, desiring to construct a dome on a somewhat larger scale than usual, found that the heavy metal roof ordinarily set up would require a more substantial structure than he co could conveniently provide, and that powerful of machinery would be necessary for making it revolve. He determined to try what could be re done with papier mache. The experiment was a complete success. His dome proved as strong as though constructed of wood and iron, and so light that it could be turned without machinery of any kind.

Greenwich shortly after had occasion to construct, a dome, and very wisely adopted the new material. The one just now completed is the second constructed during Mr. CHRISTIE'S regime. It is eighteen feet in diameter, and is designed for the Cooke 6-inch equatorial telescope, with a photo-heliograph tube attached to the same mount. This combined instrument is to be carried on a huge as block of stone weighing 3 tons, and will stand at a sufficient elevation above the other buildings and the surrounding trees to command a complete view of the sun throughout in the day.

This is what Greenwich has been unable to do hitherto, and in his last report to the Board of Visitors the ASTRONOMER ROYAL draws attention to the difficulty under which the work of the photo-heliograph has been n carried on in past years owing to the want of such an observatory as he has now succeeded in setting up, though as yet unfortunately the funds for the complete equipment of the new al building are not forthcoming. It has been hinted, by those who certainly are in a position to be well informed, that unless somewhat greater liberality be extended to the Observatory it may become necessary to discontinue the time signals, upon which the country has come to rely almost as implicitly as on the rising and setting of the sun.

It would certainly be a novel sensation for the public to find their supply of Greenwich time cut off, after the manner of the water companies when they cannot get their money. This is certainly rather a formidable screw Mr. CHRISTIE has at command, though it is to be hoped he may not have occasion to apply it to the Treasury. There is no doubt, however, that to stint funds at Greenwich Observatory is very poor policy. Its practical utility in all sorts of ways is simply incalculable.

We may add to what has been stated about the new building, that it is here that Greenwich will take its a share in the projected complete photographic map of the starry heavens.

Friday 13 May 2022

A Cooke for sale in Liverpool


Pall Mall Gazette Friday 2nd January 1885


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

Address "Telescope," care of Lee and Nightingale, Advertising Agents, Liverpool.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Comet of 1882 seen with a Cooke


Preston Chronicle Saturday 20th May 1882

The Comet -We learn that a distinct and brilliant view of the latest addition to the solar system the new comet, bas been obtained by the Rev. .James Pearson, M.A, vicar of Fleetwood, by the aid of his four-inch equatorial (Cooke), from positions given in the Dunecht Ephemeris for May 10th. The tail was sufficiently long to traverse the field of the instrument, but it is still only visible in a telescope like that named.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

A Cooke at an auction


London Evening Standard Wednesday 3rd May 1882

MESSRS. SOTHEBY, WILKINSON,& HODGE will SELL by AUCTION, at their House, No. 13, Wellington Street Strand W.C. on Thursday May 25th the SILVER PLATE (above 1,000 ounces) and articles of Virtu, collected by the late John Fitchett Marsh esq, comprising plated ware, oriental, wedge wood and other china. Shakespeare relics some important bronzes, marble busts, marqueteric cabinets a large and beautiful portable equatorial telescope by Cooke and Sons, 2 microscopes, one a very fine ‘binocular’ by Smith and Beck fire screens etc.

John Fitchett Marsh Esq formerly of Fairfield House Warrington and late of Hardwick House Chepstow

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Probable Cooke in Sunderland


The Sunderland Scientific and Industrial exhibition will be held at the Skating Rink Hudson Road in February 1882 and included Mr John G Allison of the Old Rectory Monkwearmouth, who exhibited a portable telescope which will be found worthy of our astronomical students.

The object glass in 4 inches in diameter and 5 feet focal length withy polished brass tube and finder attached. It has 4 eyepieces powers from 80 to 300 and is fixed on a strong polished walnut tripod stand.

I believe this the telescope purchased by John G Allison in 1866 from Thomas Cooke and Sons when Mr Allison was living at 12 Cumberland Row Newcastle.

Monday 9 May 2022

A Cooke for sale in Liverpool

 In 1875 the Liverpool Daily Post advertised a Second hand astronomical telescope for sale by the late Mr Cooke of York- G S Wood (late Abraham & Co) Opticians 20 Lord Street Liverpool.

I don't know if there was a connection with this advert but in 1864 Abraham & Co had ordered a plain equatorial mounting on tripod for a 4.5 inch tube. 

Saturday 7 May 2022

A Cooke for sale in Leeds


This was seen in the Leeds Mercury Thursday 13th March 1879. A Splendid Telescope for Sale by Cooke of York, object glass 4.5 inches diameter; equatorial bearings, micrometer &c, in large circular house with moveable top. Apply Anthony Robinson 27 Upperhead- row, Leeds

Thursday 5 May 2022

A Cooke in Glasgow


John Dansken who was born in Glasgow in 1836 was by profession a surveyor and an enthusiastic amateur astronomer who built an observatory at his home in Patrickhill, Glasgow which included a 5 inch telescope by Thomas Cooke of York, there was also a larger 13 inch reflector made by D Hunter of Lanark. 

He also had one of the finest astronomical libraries in the West of Scotland.

John Dansken died in 1905.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

The Cooke at the Coats Observatory


At the 1880 Annual meeting of the Paisley Philosophical Institution, it was proposed that the society should purchase an astronomical telescope. Mr Thomas Coats of Ferguslie, then a member of the council with advice from Professor Grant at Glasgow University a 5 inch telescope by Cooke of York was obtained.

Mr Coats provided an observatory with a sum of £2,000. This Coats Observatory would become the oldest public observatory in Scotland. On the 10th September 1883 the observatory was opened to members of the philosophical society and was then opened to the public from Monday 1st October 1883.

Mr Donald McLean one of Professor Grant’s assistants was appointed first curator. Between 1892-1898 additional equipment including a 10 inch telescope by Grubb of Dublin would be added.

The Cooke telescope would be used throughout the 19th and 20th century in order to promote astronomy. In 1963 the running of the observatory passed from the Paisley Philosophical Society to that of the town council. This placed the observatory under the museum and galleries committee.

At present the Coats observatory is closed and us due to reopen in 2023.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

A star missed by Flamsteed in Cancer


Roughly half way between the stars beta cancer magnitude 3.5 and delta hydra magnitude 4.2 is an unmarked star on star atlas 2000. Another one that was not listed by Flamsteed.

This star turns out to be HD 71115 a mag 5.1 star which is listed in sky catalogue 2000. Its a double star. Depending which double star catalogue you look at the two components stars are of

mags 5.1 and 9.2 in catalogue 2000

mags5.2 and 10.0 in Washington Double Star Catalogue

mags 5.5 and 9.5 in Burnhams

Its amazing just how many bright easy to see naked eye stars just have not been noted by Flamsteed.

Monday 2 May 2022

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.

A Confusing Flamsteed situation in Canis Minor


I have come across a Flamsteed numbered star problem in Canis Minor. Next  to the star Fl14 CMi which is a magnitude 5.3 K0 III type star, is a sgtar which is not labelled on star atlas 2000, it is in fact HD 66141 or G CMi which is a magnitude 4.4 K2 III star, this is a magnitude brighter yet not catalogued by Flamsteed.

On Atlas 2000 there is no reference number to this star so I was surprised when I came across the fact that the star was also designated as G CMi. 

This is the Gould System a system similar to the Flamsteed system that was introduced by Benjamin Gould when he published his Uranometria Argentina in 1879. On the Gould system this star would be catalogued as 50 G Canis Minoris.

If this is not confusing enough this star some how managed to get the designation of Fl13 Puppis. It then subsequently got a free transfer to Canis Minor.

It is all very confusing!!

Sunday 1 May 2022

Flamsteed issues in Leo


Here we go again, yet another Flamsteed numbered star that is fainter than stars nearby which do not have Flamsteed numbers. 

In this case 33 Leo which has a magnitude of 7.8 which is way below naked eye brightness and a small telescope of Flamsteeds’ time might struggle to see it clearly, yet two stars nearby HD 87500 mag 6.4 and HD 87776 mag 7.2 which are both brighter are both brighter were either missed of ignored by him.