Yorkshire: North Riding


Cooke, Thomas [Cook](1807-1868), born in Allerthorpe, East Riding, opticial instrument maker and manufacturer of astronomical telescopes, based in York – later Thomas Cooke and Sons (see Yorkshire: East RidingODNB; McConnell 1992; Obit., MNRAS, 29 (1868), 130-5).

Fielder, Gilbert (1933- ), born in Middlesbrough in 1933. BAA Lunar section director 1958-62. A professional geologist, he experienced difficulty in moving the Section to a more scientific and useful approach in the era of spacecraft photography. He was based at the Mill Hill Observatory from 1966-71, then at the University of Lancaster (see Bill Leatherbarrow, ‘The Amateur’s Moon’, JBAA, 123 [3] (June 2013), p. 149).

Goodricke, John (1764-1786), born in Holland but lived mostly in York, father of Variable Star Astronomy (ODNB).

Hedley, Hebert (1859-1939), born in Masham, Yorkshire. Observed using a 4-inch telescope, and also undertook microscopic work as he was also interested in biology and botany. Elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1926 and travelled around Kent lecturing on astronomy in his later years (see ‘Obit…’, MNRAS, 100 (1940), p. 249).

Parsons, William [third Earl of Rosse] (1800-67), born in York, educated Trinity College Dublin, and Magdalen College Oxford (see Offaly (Kings); ODNB).

Pigott, Nathaniel (1725-1804), born Whitton, Middlesex.  After setting-up an observatory on his estate at Frampton House, Glamorganshire 1777, Pigott removed to Bootham, York. Here he  re-established his observatory (1781-85 and 1792-93). He is noted for his observations of eclipses, the transit of Venus of 1769 from Caen in France, from Louvain in Belgium the transit of Mercury of 1786, and comets (see Middlesex pageODNB; McConnell and Brecht 1999).


Pigott’s Observatory (1781-85 & 1792-3), 33 Botha, York, established by Nathaniel Pigott (1725-1804) with a both reflecting and refracting telescopes with a quadrant and transit instrument. He is noted for his observations of eclipses, the transit of Venus of 1769 from Caen in France, from Louvain in Belgium the transit of Mercury of 1786, and comets.

Wrigglesworth Observatory, Scarborough, 1885-90
The Observatory stood at the corner of St James Road and Londesborough Road. The observatory was built in 1884-1885 for James Wigglesworth (1815-1888), a businessman and amateur astronomer. James owned Thomas Cooke & Sons of York, and it was they who supplied and erected the 30′ dome and the 15.5″ f/15 refractor.
In the same year of 1885, James was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
James had poor eyesight, and in 1886 engaged Jacob Lohse as assistant, from Dun Echt Observatory. Together they determined the positions of 20 nebulae by 1887.
See: Dave Hawkridge, http://www.oldham-optical.co.uk/Wigglesworth.htm.

Yorkshire Philosophical Society Observatory (1833- )
The Revd. Dr William Pearson attended the first meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at York in 1831. He presented the YPS with his Treatise on Practical Astronomy, and was made an Hon. Member. He responded by offering a clock, telescope and transit if they built an observatory. He also gave them Smeaton’s first conical roof. Pearson gave them a 4″ refractor, a Jones portable transit, and a sidereal clock by Barraud.

By 1833 the Observatory was in operation. In 1857 the 4″ object glass was found defective, and was replaced by William Gray.

Scarborough Observatory, Dalby Forest

York Observatory, Yorkshire Museum, York

Societies and Organisations

Reeth Informal Astronomy Group (RIAG) founded 2013 for astronomer in the Nothern Yorkshire Dales.  Members meet monthly (2nd Mon.) at Unit 14, the Dales Centre, Reeth (DL11 6SP).

Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society (SARAS), founded 1976 by John Harper as the Scarborough and District Astronomical Society.  It  first meet at theOsgodby Community Centre, Scarborough, then the old North Riding College on Filey Road and now at the town’s library.  In 2001, SARAS established the Low Dalby Astronomy Centre in Low Dalby, Dalby Forest, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission.

Whitby & District Astronomical Society (WDAS), founded 1997.  Member meet regularly at Caedmon College, Normaby campus, Prospect Hill, Whitby (Y021 1LA).

The York Astronomical Society (YAS), founded 1972.  members (100 – 2018) meet bi-monthly (1st & 3rd Fri.), at the Denham Room of the Priory Street Centre, 15 Priory Street, York (YO1 6ET).

Useful addresses

County Record Office
Museum Street, York YO1 2DS, England
Tel 01904 655631
Fax 01904 611631