Wednesday 28 June 2023

The full moon in July is a supermoon and its also the Thunder Moon

 In July we will see the first of the four supermoons visible in 2023. When the Moon rises on July 3 it will be closer to the Earth than normal, and consequently will appear to be about 7% larger than usual. This will make it a spectacular sight. If the weather is cloudy on the day don’t worry because there will be two in August and another in September.

The moon will be 224,895 miles (361,934km) from the Earth. The supermoons in August will actually be the closer than this one.

The July supermoon is known as the Thunder Moon as this is the month of the year when we are most likely to get thunder storms.

The search for the Green companion of Antares with a Cooke telescope in Canada

 The green companion to Antares should be looked for on the occasion of the Occultation on July 23rd 1893. 

Dr Donaldson of Fergus stated that at 4.00 am on the 28th March 1893, he found the pair so easily divided by his 3.5 inch Cooke that he tried smaller apertures and was always successful in “clearly and distinctly” separating them until he reaches 2.5 inches, when “the green star was visible as a thickening of the diffraction ring

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Double stars seen through a Cooke telescope in Canada

 In 1892 Dr J C Donaldson of Fergus who had been testing the excellence of his 3.5 inch Cooke by ascertaining the smallest aperture with which he can see certain well known doubles.

On the night of October 9th he was able tom see the companion of Polaris with his glass stopped down to an aperture of 1.8 inches.

With the same aperture on the 12th December, he saw the companion of Rigel and the 4 stars of theta Orion, and with the 2 inch Cooke glass, the 6 stars in the multiple stars sigma Orion

Monday 26 June 2023

The Astronomy Show

 Join me, Martin Lunn tonight and every Monday evening from 7.00 pm-9.00 pm on the Astronomy Show, probably the only regular astronomy show on any radio station in the country.

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 Astronomy in Yorkshire - God’s Own Country.

The Astronomy Show every Monday evening only on Drystone Radio 102 and 103.5 FM the Astronomy show can be heard live on line at and can also be heard later on the Drystone Radio Podcast.

Satellite transits of Jupiter seen with a Cooke telescope in Canada in 1891

On December 12th 1891 the peculiar appearance of Satellite IV was also observed by Mr J C Donaldson LLD of Fergus, 65 miles NW of Toronto.

Dr Donaldson, who had a clear sky. Wrote:- “On coming back to the telescope (a 3.5 inch refractor by Cooke), about 6.35, I fancy, I saw that IV had emerged from Transit, and I could not help noticing, the great contrast in colour between it and III and Jupiter itself, being of a dark – bluish colour, apparently so dark in fact that when I tried my 2.25 inch glass upon it I could scarcely detect it at all. In the 3,5 inch, the sight was very interesting, the two satellites looking almost like a close double star of complementary colours, III being of a golden yellow and IV of a dark blue colour.

Sunday 25 June 2023

Comet 1862 seen from Brighton

 Brighton Gazette Thursday 21st August 1862

The new comet could be seen here on Thursday, Friday, Monday, and last night, without a telescope. It is a very small object, scarcely distinguishable by an unpractised eye from the neighbouring stars; rivalling them in apparent size and brilliancy, though rather hazy, and occasionally seeming to send forth thin streams of light in a direction from the sun. When examined through the large equatorial, in the observatory of Mr Howell, at Hove, the nucleus was very bright, equalling a star of the second magnitude, and casting around a luminosity of the most delicate phosphorescent appearance. This is prolonged upwards in a tail, which is extremely faint towards its extremity; and, on Monday, several small stars could be seen sinning brightly through the nebulous envelope. Both on Monday and last night an apparent jet of light from the nucleus towards the Sun was repeatedly observed. The power used for the purpose of examination was 45, as stronger glasses did not exhibit the various phenomena so distinctly.

Barclay Phillips, Brighton, August 20th 1862

My Note,

This could be comet swift tuttle the parent comet to the Perseid meteor shower

Saturday 24 June 2023

Comet Gambert 1830

 Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware's Whitehaven Advertiser Tuesday 25th May 1830

Comet in the Constellation Pegasus—This comet was first discovered by Mr Gambart, director of the observatory at Marseilles on the 21st April. Its position in the heavens was then right ascension 21h 10m north declination ?? 37 mins. Mr Gamhart intimated to the president of the Astronomical Society of London, James South Esq, that this interesting visitor had arrived within the view of the inhabitants of the earth; and he with his well known zeal for the improvement of astronomical science, immediately communicated the intelligence to individual astronomers and to the public generally, through the channel of newspapers. Mr South possesses one of the finest achromatic telescopes if not the best in the world ( the object glass of which alone cost we believe, a thousand guineas): it is no less than twenty feet in length: he also has a five feet equatorial telescope, with suitable circles divided by the masterly hand of Troughton;

Owing to the brightness of the Moon the image the image of the comet was hardly bright enough in the equatorial telescope to bear the illumination of the micrometer wires; hence the determination of its R A was liable to some uncertainty; but its declination was observed with more accuracy. On the moon’s setting the comet became more distinct, and its nucleus was well terminated. It then could be dissected by the micrometer wire without difficulty. In the large telescope the nucleus was well defined, with powers 130 and 346 and was more satisfactorily shown than than any Mr South had seen.

In a night glass of four inches aperture, he says it appeared not unlike a school master’s well used birch. He does not say that it had been visible to the unassisted eye; but for several days past, the state of the atmosphere has not admitted of any observations on the phenomenon.

My Note

Although first seen from Europe by Mr Gambart at Marseilles it had previously been seen by Mr Fallows at the Cape of Good Hope and by others from March 17th

Friday 23 June 2023

Solar Eclipse seen in America in 1834

 Sun (London) Tuesday 27th January 1835


—A total eclipse of the sun occurred in South Caroline on the 30th of November last. The observations were made by Mr. R. T. Paine, the distinguished American astronomer, who was induced to proceed from Boston, his place of residence, to Beaufort, in South Carolina, a distance of n early 1,000 miles, on purpose to witness the phenomenon. The telescope with which Mr. Paine made his observations was a four feet equatorial one, to which magnifying powers varying, from 40 to 75 were applied. Duration of total darkness 0 1m 19s .

Mr. Paine, in a letter to his friend Mr. J. J. Audubon, describing this phenomena, says — " I consider myself well repaid by the observations I was enabled to make for all the trouble and inconvenience attending my journey. The effect produced on all animals was very great, whilst the unearthly appearance, it produced on surrounding objects can never be forgotten. During the darkness the buzzards and the poultry were seen flying to their places of roosting, and the plants of the mimosa tribe closed their leaves. The only difference observable between this eclipse and the total one which occurred at Boston in June, 1806, was, that, on this occasion, when the sun was completely concealed from sight, the moon appeared to be sat' rounded by a beautiful effulgence, which in 1806 was not perceived. This halo could not, however, be discerned through a darkened glass. The following stars and planets were visible. Artanus, (Arcturus?) Lyra, Altair, Antares, Venus, and Mercury. The thermometer fell six degrees during the time of the sun's obscuration. No other total eclipse will occur in the United States during the present century.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Halley's comet in 1910 photographed with Cooke telescope in Egypt

On January 24th, 25th, 27th and 28th 1910 Halley’s Comet was photographed by Mr Knox-Shaw at the Helwan observatory in Egypt using a 4 inch Thomas Cooke & Sons telescope. The photographs showed the twin tails and southerly secondary tail.

The Cooke telescope was attached to a 30 inch reflector that had been purchased in 1902, the reflector was made by A A Common.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Comet Viscara 1901 seen with a Cooke camera

 The comet of 1901 was photographed by Captain P B Molesworth at the Tricomali observatory in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on May 13th 1901 using a Cooke & Sons camera lens of 8.42 inch focal length.

The comet had three tails, two slightly diverging, separated by a dark streak; the third is peculiar, as it does not diverge from the nucleus but from a point just behind it. The comet is moving daily two degrees E N E and has caused quire a sensation among the locals.

Molesworth was using Klein’s Star Atlas to plot the course of the comet.


This is comet Viscara, which was discovered in Uruguay on April 12th 1901 as a naked eye comet and at its brightest it reached magnitude 1.0. This comet was a southern hemisphere object. It faded from naked eye view on May 20th but was visible in telescopes through until October 1901.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Earthquake at Lick Observatory in 1891

 Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser

Monday 5th January 1891

Severe Earthquake at San Francisco, Lick Observatory Damaged

A San Francisco telegram from Reuter on Saturday says:- two shocks of earthquake were felt here at noon today. Professor Holden reports from the Lick Observatory that the earthquake was the most severe experienced in northern California since 1868. 

The ceilings of the observatory were cracked, the plaster falling to the floor. The large equatorial telescope is however believed to be uninjured.

Monday 19 June 2023

Constellation myths and legends Antlia the Air Pump

 The French astronomer Abbe Nicolaus de la Caille (1713-1762) is frequently encountered in connection with certain constellations in the southern sky. He travelled to the Cape of Good Hope in 1750 to chart the southern heavens and in 1763 produced a catalogue of over 10,000 stars which was published posthumously. In this list of stars he introduced 14 new constellations to the sky, sadly they are all faint and obscure groups and many of them represent what were at the time modern instruments. Hence the air pump rather than a classical Greek term.

The Astronomy Show

 Join me, Martin Lunn tonight and every Monday evening from 7.00 pm-9.00 pm on the Astronomy Show, probably the only regular astronomy show on any radio station in the country.

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 Astronomy in Yorkshire - God’s Own Country.

The Astronomy Show every Monday evening only on Drystone Radio 102 and 103.5 FM the Astronomy show can be heard live on line at and can also be heard later on the Drystone Radio Podcast.

A Cooke telescope for auction

 The Scotsman Saturday 1st February 1896

Saturday 15th February at 12 o’clock at Dowdells, 38 George Street


Comprising magnificent equatorial refracting telescope on massive cast-iron pillar by T. Cooke & Sons , York with 5-inch object glass and set of negative and kelner eyepieces, with solar and star diagonals and Barlow Lens with driving clock, declination and right ascension circles, divided on silver , 28 inch polar axis; large altitude and azimuth instrument , with vertical and horizontal circles, 36-in. diameter, graduated to 5 minutes of arc, with eight reading microscopes with micrometers; transit on stone piers with telescope three and one eigth inch diameter , 46 inch focal length, refracting telescope 4 inch clear aperture , 7 inch. sextant; two fine regulator sidereal clocks by miller, electric clock by Shepherd and Bain, fine ship ' s chronometer by Millidge, projection and solar microscopes , spectroscope by Duboscq fine chemical balance by Oertling,Becker & Dunn; a large lot of object glasses , electric appliances , chemical apparatus , Bunsen battery mercury. Select library astronomical works by Pearson, Chauvenet, Brunnows and Toomis R A S monthly notices , &e.

Full particulars in Descriptive Catalogue , which is in preparation .


This telescope was purchased by Frederick Hughes from Thomas Cooke in May 1865.

Sunday 18 June 2023

China and a Cooke telescope

 Yorkshire Evening Post Saturday 2nd December 1899

The Chinese Minister has been visiting several industrial establishment in York.

 At Messrs. Cooke's instrument works he inspected the largest telescope. It is an eight-inch equatorial telescope, ranged for both photographic and visual purposes, with electric control and mouse-feed slow motions," said one of the experts to a journalist, who inquired what his Excellency knew about the matter. "Oh”, said this expert, “He knows all about already - all about this kind of telescope, I mean. What interests him now is our latest complications."

HIS EXCELLENCY TAKES NOTES. He commanded an attaché to give him a note-book, and wrote details about the wonderful telescope.

Saturday 17 June 2023

Comet Gale and a Cooke telescope

 Derby Daily Telegraph Tuesday 15th October 1912

Gale’s Comet has been well seen with the 6in. equatorial at Mr. F. J. Hanbury's Observatory, Brockhurst, East Grinstead, during the past week. The Superintendent, however, says in a letter to the Times that it is somewhat north of its predicted place in the ephemeris and the difference is on the increase amounting to nearly one degree last night. It is rising rapidly in declination and appears be brightening, also; when first seen it was estimated about fifth magnitude but now nearer the fourth. It, was really a fine object last night, being found in twilight. On a dark sky it had an extensive coma, with a large bright nucleus and a tail at least half degree length. It was very plain in the finder, and was about south of Alpha Serpentis. sighting along the telescope it was seen with the naked eye, as a little misty spot just below the bright star. It is evidently proving to be a more interesting object than was at first anticipated, and seems likely to remain in view for some little time.

My note

The comet was discovered by Walter Gale at Sydney NSW on September 8th 1912. He may have made the discovery with his 6.5 inch Thomas Cooke telescope

Friday 16 June 2023

Constellation myths and legends - Andromeda

In this series of podcasts I have tried to show how different civilisations have depicted different pictures in the sky of the constellations.

 However I did not realise  how difficult some of the names were going to be to pronounce so I apologise straight away  if things don't sound quite right.

In today's episode I am looking at Andromeda the Chained Princess

A Cooke telescope in Mauritius and a transit of Mercury

 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 15 June 2023

A Cooke telescope in Mauritius

 Abridged from the Times January 9th 1875

The further news which we have received from  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 contact5s, 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 14 June 2023

A Cooke telescope in Poland

 In Warsaw in 1898 an observatory was established a short distance north west of the university. 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 13 June 2023

The Astronomy Show podcast June 12th 2023

  In case you missed the Astronomy Show last night here is a recording of it

New Zealand Cooke telescope

 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.

Monday 12 June 2023

The Astronomy Show

 Join me, Martin Lunn tonight and every Monday evening from 7.00 pm-9.00 pm on the Astronomy Show, probably the only regular astronomy show on any radio station in the country.

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 Astronomy in Yorkshire - God’s Own Country.

The Astronomy Show every Monday evening only on Drystone Radio 102 and 103.5 FM the Astronomy show can be heard live on line at and can also be heard later on the Drystone Radio Podcast.

Cooke telescope in Japan

The Kwasan Observatory which is part of Kyoto University has a telescopes in the observatory with 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.

Sunday 11 June 2023

Venus observed from Corsica with a Cooke telescope

 During the early part of 1934 C V C Herbert made a series of observations of Venus 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.

During March, April and May 1934 Venus was observed on 28 days. No surface markings were however noticed. On March 12th the seeing was for a short time superlative.

Saturday 10 June 2023

The Rothschild Cooke telescope

 A report from 1889 says that Baron Albert von Rothschild’s observatory within the precincts of his palace is a bijou. A splendid equatorial by Thomas Cooke & Sons with a 9 inch aperture, to which the Baron has fitted notions of his own. Observations of double stars are made by him, and astronomers may in a year or two receive published results. Dr Palisa is the Baron’s court astronomer.

Friday 9 June 2023

Mars seen from Australia in 1909 with a Cooke telescope

 James Nangle at Marrickville in New South Wales using a 6.25 inch telescope which I have recently discovered was a Thomas Cooke rather that a Thomas Cooke and Sons telescope observed Mars in 1909.

He described the darkish areas to have a greenish tinge, with the Mars Cimmerium and Syrtis Major looking like the tops of trees in an Australian valley when seen from the top of a mountain. The northern snows were also well seen. There appeared none of the canals that had been drawn by Schiaparelli or Lowell.

On almost all occasions when a great increase in definition was required a screen of mosquito net was placed immediately in front of the object glass. Such a screen is evidently a good idea, since it slightly reduces the glare without interfering with the separating power, that vital point in all detailed planetary observations.

Thursday 8 June 2023

P. Eridanus observed with a Cooke telescope from Australia

 The star p Eridani (not rho) is one of the most interesting double stars in the southern hemisphere. It is a double stars that had been observed since 1826.

Two astronomers making observations up until 1908, Mr Nangle using a 6.5 inch telescope and Mr Hirst using a 4.5 inch telescope both made by Thomas Cooke & Sons of York, agree that the distance between the two components of p Eridani are getting closer.

Today we know that the system contains 2 K class main sequence stars orbiting each other every 475 years.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Aplha Centauri seen with Cooke telescopes in 1906 from Australia

 Alpha Centauri one of the leading double stars in the southern hemisphere was observed by G D Hirst using his 4.25 inch Cooke telescope and James Nangle using his 6.25 inch Cooke telescope in Australia in June and July 1906.

Tuesday 6 June 2023

The Astronomy Show Podcast

 The Astronomy Show podcast June 5th 2023

A Dark transit of Titan seen from Australia with a Cooke telescope

On November 5th / 6th 1907 Mr A B Cobham and Mr G D Hirst using a 4.5 inch Thomas Cooke & Son telescope in Australia saw a dark spot on Saturn. This was afterwards ascertained to be Titan.

They also both commented that they caught glimpse of the edge of the ring at flashes, the impression indicating the extreme fineness and delicacy of the rings when seen edgewise.

Monday 5 June 2023

Important Astronomical Observations by means of a York telescope in Australia

 York Herald Thursday 22nd March 1877

Strange news has been recently received from an Australian observatory (Adelaide). It might be described as revolutionising our ideas respecting the largest of the planets, were it not that the careful study of much older observations had already led the more advanced students of astronomy to adopt the theory which has now been demonstrated by direct observation.

During the last eight or none years the belief has been gaining ground that the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are in a state of intense heat and enwrapped in atmospheres of enormous depth and density. In fact it may be said that according to the new theory we never see the actual body of either Jupiter or Saturn, but only the outermost surfaces of the cloud layers; the real surfaces lying, not a few miles, or a few hundred miles but several thousand miles below the cloud surface measured by astronomers.

It has been shown that all the phenomena presented by the two gas giants planets correspond with this theory, whereas not one in ten can be explained by the older theory.

Fortunately in the case of Jupiter, we have evidence we have evidence from the Adelaide Observatory where a fine (8 inch) telescope by T Cooke & Sons of York has been erected, and where a singular purity of air greatly assists astronomical observation, two practised observers (Mr Todd and Mr Ringwood) on two different occasions, both observing on each occasion saw the nearest of Jupiter’s satellites through the outer layer of the planet’s cloud laden atmosphere, which must, therefore, of necessity, be at least 2,000 miles in depth.

In his book ‘Flowers in the Sky’ Richard Proctor makes references to this observation by Mr Todd and Mr Ringwood.

The Astronomy Show

 Join me, Martin Lunn tonight and every Monday evening from 7.00 pm-9.00 pm on the Astronomy Show, probably the only regular astronomy show on any radio station in the country.

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 Astronomy in Yorkshire - God’s Own Country.


The Astronomy Show every Monday evening only on Drystone Radio 102 and 103.5 FM the Astronomy show can be heard live on line at and can also be heard later on the Drystone Radio Podcast.

Sunday 4 June 2023

Partial Solar Eclipse in 1900 seen by GJ Newbegin

The partial solar eclipse on May 28th 1900  was observed by G J Newbegin  using the 9 inch Cooke telescope with a power of 75. It was also seen by Mrs Newbegin and Rev T E R Phillips using the projection method. The image produced was 4.2 inches in diameter.

Saturday 3 June 2023

Sunspots seen from Reading in 1896

In 1896 the Rev J H Jenkinson of St Mary’s vicarage Reading, Berks 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.

Friday 2 June 2023

New Observatory in Catania with a Cooke telescope

The Catania observatory which was completed in 1890 is principally for astrophysics, celestial photography, meteorology and seismology. There is a 6-inch Cooke fitted with photographic apparatus; Huggins's apparatus for photographing the solar corona; Mascart's apparatus for photographing atmospherical electricity, &c.

Thursday 1 June 2023

Strawberry Full Moon in June

 The Full Moon on June 4th is called the Strawberry Moon, because this is the time of year when the strawberries, considered the most celebrated and important of the berries, were traditionally harvested. Nowadays we can buy strawberries at any time of year.

Argentina, Sun and a Cooke telescope

 For the year 1908, a fine set of drawings had been sent by Mr Barnett of Rosario, Argentina made with his 4 inch Cooke & Sons telescope of the Sun. A close examination of the Stoneyhurst drawings shows an almost exact agreement in the sun spot groups delineated.