Monday, May 9, 2016

Transit of Mercury 2016

As expected from the weather forecast, we were clouded in for the transit this morning. Based on the conditions, I did not set up any of the fancy equipment but I did assemble a DLSR (500mm, f/5.6, 1/200sec, ISO-100) and attached a Kendricks solar filter to the objective and kept it handy.

For most of the morning, this is what my pictures looked like:

There were a few gaps in the heavy cloud cover allowing me to get a few shots. The first was taken from home before leaving work, the second from the roof of the parking garage at work. In both, Mercury is the very small disk in the bottom half of the image moving up and towards the right. This size is impressive when you think that the sun is half again as far from us as Mercury. You can see that over the course of 80 minutes it has moved noticeably. The smudges near the center and towards the upper-left are sunspots; there was not much solar activity. The dark fluff is cloud cover obscuring the view; there was plenty of that.

My brother-in-law, Ross Cunniff had better weather and went for the full monty. Here is his post. For a few billion dollars more, you can get this jaw-dropping animation from the NASA SDO mission.

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