Telescope: Cooke 6-inch Equatorial No.2

All six of the six 6-inch Equatorials originally assembled for the British 1874 Transit of Venus expeditions were formally transferred to the Royal Observatory between 2 June 1877 and 16 May 1878 (ADM190/4/401–404).

Various new instruments, including two 6-inch Equatorials by Cooke (Cooke No.1 and Cooke No.2) were ordered in 1881 for the British 1882 Transit of Venus expeditions (RGO6/283). In addition, various other instruments were borrowed including from the Royal Observatory. Amongst these was the Naylor 6-inch Equatorial.

Following the loss of the Naylor at sea on its return journey, Cooke No.2, which was sent to Brisbane and returned in 5 cases (RGO6/283/461) was transferred to the Royal Observatory as a replacement (RGO6/283). It was transferred to the  National Maritime Museum in 1998 when the Observatory was closed down (Object ID: ZBA0757).


Post Transit of Venus history

Following its arrival at the Observatory the telescope has spent most of its life in packing cases. A summary of its subsequent history is given below:

1887, June: Mounted in South Ground (BofV Report)

1889: Dismounted (BofV Report)

1929: Loaned to Radcliffe Observatory for use in South Africa 30 December 1929 (see correspondence in E5) (RGO39/5/88).

1930: Returned from South Africa except O.G. 29 July 1930. O.G. returned by Dr Steavenson 9 September 1930. From inventory (RGO39/5/88).

1965: Installed in Dome C at Herstmonceux in December following renovation (Wilkins part 1 p.127)

1973: Removed from Dome C to make way for the Steavenson 30-inch reflector from the Cape Observatory

1998: Transferred to National Maritime Museum

The packing cases retain various shipping labels from when it was loaned to the Radcliffe Observatory. They include ones from the Union Castle Line and one from the souther Railway Baggage agents at Southampton.


Details of detached parts

The 1893 Inventory (RGO39/10/78) lists the following parts

On the ground floor of the south wing of the New Physical Building

Cooke 6-inch Equatorial Telescope Finder and Driving Clock

In the Museum (central octagon) of the New Physical Building

1 Object Glass
1 Adapters, straight
1 Adaptor, diagonal (in two parts)
5 Eyepieces, negative
1 Eyepiece, low power, (30) with adaptor
5 Dark shades
1 set metal guards
1 Metal guard
1 Striding level
1 Bifilar micrometer, with 4 eyepieces and 3 dark shades

A second set of entries in a partial inventory made in 1895 states that the items are as in the inventory above, but differs slightly in both detail and the inclusion of a Double image micrometer. The full list of items is as follows:

1 Object Glass
1 Bifiliar micrometer in box with 4 eyepieces and 3 dark shades
1 Double image micrometer with divided lens - 2 eyepieces
1 Striding level
1 Empty tool box
Box of eyepieces containing:
   1 Eyepiece, low power, (30)
   5 Eyepieces 120, 140, 200, 300, 450
   2 Adaptors
   1 Adaptor, diagonal
   5 Dark shades
   1 set guards

List of telescopes installed at different times in Dome C at Herstmonceux

When the telescope domes of the Equatorial Group at Herstmonceux were built, it had been planned to erect a new Schmidt Telescope in Dome C. Money for this was not forthcoming and the dome was subsequently used as follows:

1956-1961: The Isaac Roberts 20-inch reflector on loan from the Science Museum. Dismounted by July

1965-1973?: Cooke 6-inch equatorial No.2. Installed December following renovation (Wilkins part 1 p.127) Purpose unknown

1973-1980 Steavenson 30-inch reflector from the Cape Observatory

1982 to present: Hewitt Camera. Installed 25 October (Wilkins part 1 p.198)