Welcome to a journey into our Universe with Dr Dave, amateur astronomer and astrophotographer for over 40 years. Astro-imaging, image processing, space science, solar astronomy and public outreach are some of the stops in this journey!
This was the first one of these I have observed. Obviously not the fanfare associated with the Venus event 4 years ago now. (see “Road trip to Venus” link at the top of the blog page) There have been 4 of these since 1999. The next one is in 2019, so not really that rare. Still it’s fascinating to witness the solar system in motion! I would say the most impressive thing about this is how small Mercury is. Basically a black dot crossing the Sun, not even as big as a sunspot! If you think about it, not surprising because it’s only a little larger than our own Moon. So needless to say the visual appearance through the telescope was very cool, but imaging not so much. Conditions were a bit windy, but I didn’t have to travel 500 miles to get out of bad weather to see it like I did for the Venus transit!
This was the set up to start off. I have a modified Orion ED80 with added HA filters. The visual observations were great but I could not image through the scope as it has accumulated a lot of dust and junk overt he years. Might be time to upgrade. I switched to white light observing which was a lot cleaner
The transit was already close to 2 hours in progress when the Sun rose. This is about 2 hours after that, toward the latter part of the transit. You can see Mercury is a mere pin dot on the right! There is a small sunspot group to the left. Mercury is even smaller than that! These were captured with Tak FS102 refractor and Canon 600D. ISO 400 and 1/4000 exposure.
Transit almost over. Mercury is seen on the far right about to exit the theater!
This is the entire sequence as observed from Las Cruces NM. Transit ended at 12:40 MDT