Views of the Sun by Monty, Deirdre and James Cook in 1869


Drawing of a sunspot on 14 April 1869 by James Cook

While working on a new catalogue for the library of the Sydney City Skywatchers, an intern found an intriguing album of ink and pencil astronomical drawings. They are mainly of Mars at its 1879 opposition and Jupiter from 1869 to 1879. Plus there is the sunspot drawing above. That drawing indicates a complex sunspot group such as probably would have been seen often during that year of solar maximum.

The sunspot drawing and some of the others are signed by James Cook. I have not previously heard of an amateur astronomer by that name and certainly he would not be Captain James Cook who had been killed in Hawaii in 1779. The mysterious Mr Cook appears to have used a number of telescopes as some of the Jupiter drawings indicate a “10” Metallic Newtonian” while others say “Aperture 15 inch”.


Active Region 1019 on the Sun visible on 2 June 2009, drawn by Deirdre Kelleghan

Amateur astronomers are still drawing and imaging the Sun in 2009 although the Sun is currently in a state of exceptionally low activity. Above is a recent drawing by Irish astronomical sketcher Deirdre Kelleghan who twitters. She says of the drawing:

We are having an unusual few days of hot hot sunny sun , so a bit of solar observing was just the ticket for relaxing in my garden.

Active Region 1019 June 2nd 2009
PST 40 mm / 8mm TVP Up scaled by eye
Pastel, and Conte on black paper
11:00 UT


A prominence on the Sun imaged on 29 May 2009 (Australian date) by Monty Leventhal

Monty Leventhal of the Sydney City Skywatchers is another diligent solar observer. He says of the above digital image:

Today’s Digital filtergram shows a Prominence reaching an approximate height of 84,000 km.

Date:- 28-5-09
Time:- 22.25 UT
Conditions:- Good but very cloudy
Supported by the Donovan Astronomical Trust, Sydney. Australia.
Camera:- Canon 300D
Filter:- DayStar T-Scanner. 6Å.
Telescope:- Meade S.C. 10 inch

Over the next few weeks we will look at more of James Cook’s rediscovered drawings.

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