Sunday, 14 August 2022

S Delphinus observed from Manchester in 1865


Mr Baxendell read a communication on the variable star S Delphini at the meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester on the 9th of November 1865. It stated that a maximum occurred on August 9th 1865, magnitude 8.9, the mean period being 332 days and the minimum equalling the 13.5 magnitude.

Mr Baxendell’s results were confirmed in a great measure by Mr G Knott of Cuckfield. The colour of the star is reddish and is more intense at the minimum.

Note - S Delphinus is now known to be a Mira type red giant variable star with a magnitude range of 8.3-12.4 and a period of 277 days.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

100 Perseids seen over Leeds in 1901


The Perseids this year may have been affected by the Full Moon but over 100 years ago they were lots  being seen over Leeds.

Joseph H Elgie FRAS saw 100 meteors on the night of August 11th 1901, from his home in Leeds. 

In 1914 Elgie published 'The Stars, Night by Night' a review of the night sky

Friday, 12 August 2022

Early Photos of the Moon taken with a Cooke


John Phillips 1800-1874 was an eminent geologist. He would become the first keeper of the Yorkshire Museum which was built by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1829, he also had a great interest in astronomy and photography.

He brought a Thomas Cooke 6.25 inch telescope in 1852 which he set up in the Museum Gardens and in 1853 took some of the earliest photographs of the Moon. One very early one was taken on July 15th 1853. He was a keen observer of the Moon and the Sun. He used the 6.25 inch Cooke to observe both objects.

He left the Yorkshire Museum in York around 1854 and moved to work at the University of Oxford firstly as deputy reader in geology and then in 1856 he became professor of Geology.

He was still using the 6.25 inch in the early 1860s, but as with so many Victorian telescopes after his death in 1874 it just disappeared and I have no idea what happened to it.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Queen Victoria, a Comet and a Cooke

 Comet Tebbutt which was discovered by the Australian astronomer John Tebbutt graced the skies during the summer of 1861 over Europe.

 Among the people who observed this comet from Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight were Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the future King Edward VII, the telescope which they used was a 5.25 inch refractor was made by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

More on the Newbegin Cooke Telescope


BAA Vol 34 No 9 page 353 1924

SPECTROSCOPIC SECTION.— 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.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

A Cooke in Durham


BAA Vol 33 No 9 1923 page 337

T H E DURHAM UNIVERSITY OBSERVATORY.—Mr. Harold Thomson, F.R.A.S., was appointed Hon. Director of the Observatory in succession to the late Col. Ε. H. Grove-Hills, F.R.S. In this report, he reviews the equipment and work of the observatory.

The Almucantar and the Zenith Telescope are not in present use, and indeed the bad weather conditions prevailing in Durham almost preclude their use.

The 6.4 inch refractor, used for many years by the late Mr. Charles Grover at Sir Wilfrid Peek's Observatory, has been refigured by Messrs. Cooke, Troughton and Simms, York, and the object-glass will now divide double stars down to the theoretical limit; and whilst this was at the works, the Observer made use of the Hon. Director's 5-inch Cooke refractor, and 220 observations of variable stars have been reduced and will be forwarded to the Variable Star Section of the BAA . for inclusion in the Memoirs.

Monday, 8 August 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 Cooke Newbegin Telescope


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.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

A Cooke for sale in Scotland

 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.

 The advert was repeated on Saturday 12th April and Wednesday 16th April


Saturday, 6 August 2022

Another Cooke for sale in Liverpool


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

Friday, 5 August 2022

Cooke for sale in Liverpool in 1875


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.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Cooke that travelled from Dover to Surrey then South Africa and finally America

 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 2022 I do not know if the project has yet been completed.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Will Hay, the White Spot on Saturn, Lamp posts and a Cooke

 The astronomer and comedian Will Hay discovered a white spot on Saturn in August 1933. The film star known is known for playing bumbling teachers or station masters, yet his work as an astronomer was unknown to most people even his neighbours.

He discovered the white spot on Saturn using his 6 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope. When he was interviewed by the press as well as outlying the astronomical work he undertook he also made reference to the problems of light pollution. He commented that:-

He is delighted with his discovery for more than one reason. For some time he has been worrying Croydon council to shade the two lamp posts outside his house because their reflections seriously interfere with his work. He thinks that now perhaps they will realise that he is not just a funny man but someone of importance in the astronomical world.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Sunspots seen from Manchester in 1870


Mr Henry Ormesher of Manchester writes that -

“On the 31st July 1870 while looking at sunspots with my 3 inch refractor, I saw a beautiful cluster of spots, occupying an almost central position on the disc. It occurred to me that the umbra in the largest spot appeared more dense on the eastern side. 

I therefore determined to examine it with my 5.25 inch refractor; I did so using a power of 181. The result was, that it resolved itself into a very fine nucleus of a somewhat oval shape. After making myself sure that this was the case, I examined the cluster, and was struck with the beautiful appearance of the brighter part of the Sun’s atmosphere. A very bright stream ran across the cluster in a zigzag direction, separating the penumbra. Some parts of this stream, particularly the upper part, appeared brighter than others, presenting a very mottled appearance”

Monday, 1 August 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.

T Aquila discovered in Manchester


Mr Baxendell has forwarded details of a new variable star T Aquila that was discovered at Mr Worthington’s observatory in Manchester on July 28th 1863.

Today we know that T Aquila is a long period red giant star changing in brightness between magnitude 8.8 – 11.0 over a long irregular period of several months.