Saturday 30 July 2022

The Bazeley Cooke and Joseph Baxendell

 In July 1867 the polymath Thomas Bazeley purchased a 6 inch telescope from Thomas Cooke & Sons, the telescope cost £365 (today this would be over £45,000) . In 1877 Bazeley donated the telescope to Joseph Baxendell.

Baxendell was a prolific variable star observer and in fact discovered around 20 new variable stars, including the nova T Corona Borealis in 1866, this would later become known as the Blaze Star because it went novae again in 1846.

This 6 inch Cooke would allow him to continue his variable star work. Bazley also supplied the timber structure for the telescope. Baxendell renamed his house at 14, Liverpool Road, Birkdale, The Observatory.

Friday 29 July 2022

More from the Cooke at Mauritius


On the afternoon of November 14th 1907 a transit of Mercury was observed from Mauritius using a 6 inch equatorial by Thomas Cooke & Sons York with a diagonal eyepiece power 80. I believe this was the same 6 inch Cooke that was used to observe the Transit of Venus in 1874.

The afternoon of the transit was cloudy but the Sun emerged from behind the clouds one minute before the internal contact at ingress. The Sun’s limb was boiling considerably; the definition of the limb was bad, but the spots at the centre and near the limb good.

Mercury appeared as a clear cut black disc, perfectly circular, with no white spot or fringe. No flashing across of cusps was detected.

Almost immediately after internal contact at ingress the Sun became obscured, and was not visible again until about 15 minutes before internal contact at egress. A careful watch was then made for any distortion, white spot, or disc, but none could be detected in the equatorial.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Transit of Venus, Mauritius and a Cooke


Abridged from the Times, January 9th 1875

The further news which we have received from the Mauritius is much more hopeful than that telegraphed by Lord Lindsay, for it includes an account of the doings of Mr Meldrum, the director of the Government Observatory in that island.

Mr Meldrum having only a few weeks before the transit of Venus been provided with a perfect telescope of six inches aperture by Thomas Cooke & Sons, York has been fortunate enough to obtain an observation of the ingress although both Lord Lindsay and the German party were prevented from doing this but the cloudy state of the sky. But although Mr Meldrum obtained the two interior contacts, clouds and haze were at intervals passing over the Sun, which, in fact, was obscuring during the greater part of the transit, passing showers of rain not being wanting to harass the observers.

At times beautiful definitions of the planet were observed, especially soon after the first interior contact. Then there was a long period of obscuration, after which, most fortunately, the Sun shone out for the second interior contact. A few minutes before the last interior contact the Sun was again obscured, and when the clouds passed away the transit was over.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

A Polish Cooke

 In Warsaw in 1898 an observatory was established in an observatory a short distance north west of the university there. The observatory had originally belonged to the Polish amateur astronomer Jan Walery Jedrzejewicz (1835-1887) at Plonsk in central Poland.

Among the equipment in the observatory was a 5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope. Among the objects that Jedrzejewicz observed were double stars, sunspots, lunar occultations and the positions of 16 comets.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Did the Barclay's Cooke discover the Pup?


In 1862 Sirius B or the Pup was discovered in January 1862 by Alvan Clark testing an 18.5 inch refractor.

There is however a mystery because on January 10th 1856 Joseph Barclay discovered a small star within the blaze of light from alpha Canis Minoris or Procyon using a Thomas Cooke & Sons 7.5 inch telescope. Another Pup star. The star was described as being of magnitude 10.5 and precedes Procyon by 3 or 4 seconds of time.

Normally the discovery of Procyon B is given as being made by J M Schaeberle using the 36 inch refractor at Lick Observatory in California in 1896.

However another twist in the story is that in 1860 Barclay replaced his 7.5 inch Cooke telescope with a 10 inch Cooke telescope which was used by Herman Romberg until 1863 and he states that he also observed this companion star to Procyon.

So was a Cooke telescope used to discover Procyon B? 

Monday 25 July 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 the Carter Observatory in New Zealand


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.

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.

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.

Sunday 24 July 2022

A Cooke in New Zealand for the Transit of Venus in 1882


Arthur Samuel Atkinson was born in Hurworth, Durham in 1833 and moved to New Zealand in 1853. He fought during the Taranaki war in 1860 and eventually he entered the legal profession but had a great love of astronomy.

In 1882 he was asked by the Royal Society of London to be an official observer of the Transit of Venus. To do this he obtained a 5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope which I believe he purchased second hand. He also used it to observe the total eclipse of the Sun in 1885.

The telescope was housed in an observatory in Nelson which is on the south island of New Zealand and was originally called the Atkinson Observatory. In 1982 a newer building was opened and in 2008 the observatory was renamed the Cawthron Atkinson Observatory after the wealthy benefactor Thomas Cawthron.

The Cooke 5 inch telescope was officially retired from active use in 2017 and was placed in a new Cawthron Trust Institute building for people to look at. The Cooke was replaced by a Celestron 14 inch telescope.

Saturday 23 July 2022

A 90 year old Cooke in Japan


 People may  be interested in a special link between Japan and Yorkshire to be found at the Kwasan Observatory which is part of Kyoto University.

One of the telescopes in the observatory has a lens 12 inches (30 cms) in diameter and was made by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York. The telescope was installed in 1929 and was originally used for observing the Moon and planets. Its research life is over now, but the telescope is still used for regular open evenings, allowing members of the public to see objects in the night sky.

This telescope, made in York over 90 years ago, is the oldest working telescope still in use in Japan.

Friday 22 July 2022

A Cooke in Corsica


During March, April and May of 1934 Venus was observed on 28 days by C V C Herbert from his small observatory at Carrosaccia, Corsica using a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope. Although only a small instrument the quality of the object glass and the steady atmosphere compensated for the small aperture.

Thursday 21 July 2022

Cooke equipment for a Vicar in Northants


Rev. David Thomas Knight, Barton Vicarage, Earls Barton, Northants purchased from Thomas Cooke in 1864, Transit and aplanatic eyepieces and an equatorial mounting with slow motion, circles etc. drill pillar for fixing. 

In 1867 he further purchased from Cooke a best transit eyepiece, one or two perforated zinc plates to fit in dew cap of 5.5 inch telescope, for assistance in definition, and a number of  Kellner eyepieces. I don't know the maker of the telescope mentioned here. 

Also in 1867 he purchased from Cooke, friction wheels and tramway for observatory roof, I assume this observatory housed the 5.5 inch telescope.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Small Cooke for Cumbria


I have come across William Kitson of High Street, Maryport, Cumbria who in 1865 purchased a 2 inch OG from TC & Sons with a focal length of 30 inches. He was a jeweller by profession so I do not know if the OG was needed for jewellery work or astronomical or terrestrial work.

There had been plans two years earlier in 1863 to build an observatory in Maryport equipped with a 4 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope, to date I do not know if that project was completed.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Cooke for Cambridge


In 1858 the Rev. William Kingsley of Sidney College ordered a universal equatorial mounting to carry a telescope tube 4 feet long with a diameter of 3 and 5/8 inches. I don't know who supplied the telescope tube.

I believe this is the same  Rev William Kinglsey of Cambridge who invented an illuminator to be used with the microscope. It was I believe first used commercially by Andrew Ross around 1848.

Monday 18 July 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.

More Flamsteed Mysteries


I have come across another of what I call the Flamsteed anomalies. While looking around Leo I came across Fl 71 Leo which at magnitude 7.0 and is a spectral class K1 giant is clearly below naked eye visibility. It is not listed in catalogue 2000 as Fl 71 but by its HD number 98824. (HD stands for the Henry Draper catalogue).

Next to Fl71 is the star HD 98547 at magnitude 7.1 which is not listed by flamsteed, this star is a main sequence A0 class star.

What is bizarre but is becoming an increasingly common feature when I explore the areas of the sky away from the Milky Way is just how many stars should have been listed by Flamsteed but weren’t and how many stars that should not have been, but are!!!

Sunday 17 July 2022

A Cooke in Catania


In 1890 a new observatory at Catania in Sicily was opened, its main role was in the study of astrophysics. 

A 6 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope was installed with photographic apparatus; Huggins apparatus for photographing the solar corona.

In 1892 regular observations of solar spots and prominences started. On April 23rd 1893 observations were made of the 1893 solar eclipse using the 6 inch Cooke.

Saturday 16 July 2022

Another Cooke order for Liverpool

 I assume that someone at the King Gas Co, Newlington Street, Liverpool was interested in astronomy, because  in 1865 they ordered several astronomical eyepieces from Thomas Cooke & Sons for a 3.5 inch telescope. What I don't know is whether the telescope was a Cooke

Friday 15 July 2022

Cookes for London


Kilpatrick & Co, 2 Northampton Square, London were listed as  merchants, in 1866 they ordered a 3.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope and in 1867 another 3.5 inch Cooke which had to have wide field eye pieces to observe nebulae. In addition in 1867 a 4 inch Cooke telescope was also ordered.

What is a little confusing is that at the same address is Peter Kilpatrick I don’t know if he was related in any way he was a jeweller. He also had a branch in Melbourne, Australia.

Thursday 14 July 2022

Cooke Transit for Herts


 W. Jones, The Warren, Bushey Heath, Herts ordered in 1866 a transit instrument from Thomas Cooke & Sons, I don't know the size of the OG.

 In 1867 he ordered 4 friction wheels which had to be not more than 8 inches in diameter and tramway for his observatory which was 10 feet and 4.5 inches wide. 

I assume that the observatory was for a telescope as transit were usually housed in a transit room.

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Cooke eyepieces for Leamington

In 1864 S. Jones of Upper Parade, Leamington purchased 2 Thomas Cooke & Sons astronomical eyepieces for a 2.75 inch telescope. I don't know if the telescope was a Cooke or not.

 A further astronomical eyepiece was also purchased in 1867.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Update on the Jenkinson Cooke telescope


In June I blogged about the Rev Jenkinson. 

 I have recently discovered that in 1867 the Rev J H Jenkinson of St Mary’s vicarage Reading, Berks purchased two astronomical eyepieces from Thomas Cooke and Sons York.

 In 1896 he 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.

I wonder if those eyepieces purchased in 1867 were the ones used in 1896?

Monday 11 July 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 with a Liverpool AS connection?


I have come across a reference to Richard C. Johnson of Brookfield House, Seaforth, Liverpool who purchased a Cooke telescope. Johnson was a coal and gunpowder agent. I am not sure if this is the same R C Johnson was was a president of the Liverpool Astronomical Society.

In 1865 he purchased from Thomas Cooke & Sons a 2 inch telescope with a brass mounting, a leather sling case and pancratic, terrestrial and Huyghenian eyepieces.

Sunday 10 July 2022

A Cooke for Bristol Opticians


In 1868 the optical firm of Husbands & Clarke of 8 St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol purchased a 2in telescope made by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York.

They requested that there should be two holes 3/8 inch in the tube.

Saturday 9 July 2022

An Observatory that was vandalised in Surrey in 1887


Wallington & Carshalton Herald Saturday 9th July 1887


To the Editor of The Herald

Sometime night my Observatory was broken into and the equatorial astronomical telescope mounted there was completely ruined, the object glass, good one by Wray. Was stolen. and all the adjusting and clamping screws removed and taken away.

These things, of course, have little or no value in themselves apart from the instrument, but without them the whole machine with all its lenses and accessories, which I kept for greater safety in the house. is utterly useless. Such wanton mischief ought somehow to be exposed.

I regret to say that this is not the first time I have had reason to complain, for hardly a month has passed during the year without some damage being done to the observatory itself; it is of very light structure. made of wood and covered with the Patent Willesden Card. and has successfully stood the 'heavy snow falls and storms of the past winter, but has not been proof against the sticks and stones which has frequently been sent through it.

The observatory stands in but perhaps too nest the footpath across the lavender field from which the mischief has been done.

I never expect that my loss can be replaced, it would be no easy matter to get the missing parts, probably scattered in the lavender field re made, and a new instrument, even if I could afford to buy it, could never have the associations and interesting early study.

But what can be said for this wanton spirit of destruction, which would have been counted a disgrace, even by the most uncivilised races of the world.

However let the people of Wallington know what sort they have in their midst to deal with, and be on their guard, for what can be safe?

I am yours faithfully

John H Haslam

Penden Wallington, July 5th

Friday 8 July 2022

Another Cooke in Hampshire


I have come across another astronomer who purchased a small Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope.

In this case it is J. Hullett of Clarence Lodge, Purbrook, Cosham, Hampshire who in 1868 purchased a 2.75 inch refractor, which I would assume would have been mounted on a small tripod.

I don't know if they made any observations using the telescope.

Thursday 7 July 2022

A Cooke in Poona, India


In a publication from The Maharaja Takhasingji Observatory, Poona, India stating that the Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun was successfully observed with a 6 inch Cooke triple- achromatic.

The eclipse was observed by Prof Naegamvala at Jeur in Western India who was director of the observatory there and I believe that the telescope used was made by Thomas Cooke himself, as it is indicated that when the observatory was opened in 1888, the telescope was described as being made by Cooke the elder.

Wednesday 6 July 2022

A Cooke in the Himalayas


Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser

Friday 11th December 1874

Transit of Venus

This station (Roorkee) is in fact a contribution made by the Government of India at the suggestion of Colonel Tennant B.E, ( Bengal Engineers), who in and since 1865 has rendered valuable aid in the observations of many interesting astronomical phenomena visible in Indian territory, especially the total eclipse of 1868 and 1871.

The suggestion of Colonel Tennant was at once warmly taken up by the viceroy in conjunction with the home government with a view to their future use in subsequent inquiries. The instruments sent out by Colonel Strange, of the India Stores Department are of the utmost precession and delicacy.

The temporary observatory erected by Col. Tennant at Roorkee, the seat of the Indian Civil Engineering College at the foot of the Himalayas, now contain a refractor of 6 inch aperture made by T Cooke & Sons York.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser

Saturday 12th December 1874

Colonel Tennant from Roorkee says that during the transit one hundred photographs of the planet had been taken.

Probably if nothing else had been done, this would have secured to England an honourable place in the record of investigations.

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Solar prominence seen from India with a Cooke


On February 18th 1908 Mr Evershed at the Solar Physics Observatory, Kodaikanal, South India using a 6 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope took a series of photographs of a solar prominence. 

The remarkable appearance of this kind of prominence has seldom been recorded. 20 photographs were taken with 14 being reproduced here.

Visual observations were also made which indicated a moderately bright mass of prominences

Monday 4 July 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 for Calcutta


In 1903 Thomas Cooke & Sons of York supplied a 4.5 inch telescope to the Government Observatory in Calcutta, India. The head of the observatory was Mr Evershed, Attached to the telescope was a 5 inch Camera also supplied by Cookes.

The telescope was mounted on a Cooke iron pillar which were housed in a shed. This shed was mounted on wheels and rails that allowed it to be moved when the telescope was to be used.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Comet Coggia seen through 25 inch Cooke telescope at Gateshead


On July 12th 1874 Robert Newall and Norman Lockyer observed comet Coggia using the Thomas Cooke & Sons 25 inch telescope.

The observations were made at Newall’s observatory at Gateshead. The 25 inch was at the time the largest telescope in the world.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Occultation by Jupiter seen from Canada with Cooke Telescopes


Attempts were made on May 22nd 1896 at several points across Canada to observe the occultation of a 9th magnitude star in Cancer by Jupiter.

At the Toronto Observatory Mr F L Blake using the Cooke 6 inch refractor found the planet was too low in the sky for first class seeing, although the night was clear.

Dr J C Donaldson of Fergus Ontario using a 3.25 inch Cooke & Sons refractor obtained a glimpse of the star, but the nearness to the horizon made observing very difficult.

It is not known if any other observers further to the west observed the occultation.

Friday 1 July 2022

An old Cooke in Toronto

 The University of Toronto’s David Dunlap observatory at Richmond Hill near Toronto, Canada today houses a 74 inch Grubb Parsons reflector that was installed in 1935. However there was a much older observatory in Toronto.

This was the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory at the University of Toronto which housed a 6 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope that was installed in 1880. The Cooke was used in particular for the study of sun spots in conjunction with magnetic measurements made at the observatory. I believe that the Cooke may have been used until around 1910.