Mercury’s Day in the Sun

The speedy little planet crossed the solar disc for the first time since 2006.

Guimond-Mercury transit

This superbly detailed, full-disc H-alpha transit shot was captured by Jean Guimond from Quebec City, Quebec. He used a Lunt 80mm H-Alpha solar scope and a Point Grey Grasshopper monochrome video camera to acquire the 100 frames used in the final image. “The weather on transit day was quite uncertain — windy, overcast, and we even had some rain and snow. Fortunately we were lucky enough to catch a few breaks in the clouds and see part of the event,” he notes.

Monday, May 9, featured a rare transit of Mercury. How rare? The last one was in 2006 and the next one won’t happen until 2019. After that, you’ll have to wait until 2032 for another transit opportunity.

I viewed the transit from my home in Victoria, British Columbia, where we had perfectly clear skies.  I used my 66-millimetre refractor (the same scope I used for the photo above) and it was the right tool for the job. I was impressed by how black the planet was compared with the umbra of the nearby spot group. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really — the unlit side of Mercury is black while even the darkest part of a sunspot still throws off a lot of light. It was a treat watching the planet slip off the edge of the Sun, though by that time the seeing was beginning to get a bit wavy. A good show, even if it wasn’t as impressive as a Venus transit.

Seronik-Mercury transit-2016

SkyNews editor Gary Seronik captured this view of Mercury just before the planet slipped off the Sun’s disc.

Batchelor-Transit of Mercury Composite

Bill Batchelor made this fine composite photo of the transit with images captured using a modified Canon EOS T2i camera and a 120mm refractor telescope from his backyard in Coquitlam, British Columbia. “There were a few clouds at sunrise but they blew out quickly and we enjoyed mostly clear skies for the majority of the transit. What a wonderfully relaxing event,” Bill says.

Rife-2016-05-09-Mercury transit

Gordon Rife of Schomberg, Ontario, assembled this set of detailed transit images. “I used a Celestron 70 mm fluorite refractor telescope and a Baader Solar screen filter. For the picture shown here, I combined the best 25% of 500 video frames captured with an Image Source camera equipped with a 802 nanometer IR filter to steady the seeing, which was poor,” he reports.

Steve Irvine of Georgian Bluffs, Ontario, used a Coronado SolarMax II 60 Hydrogen-alpha scope and a Canon 6D DSLR camera for this image of Mercury crossing the Sun.

Steve Irvine of Georgian Bluffs, Ontario, used a Coronado SolarMax II 60 Hydrogen-alpha scope and a Canon 6D DSLR camera for this image of Mercury crossing the Sun.

Mark-ingress_crop

Mercury’s ingress was photographed by Barry Mark of Stitsville, Ontario. This crop from a larger image was made with a Sky-Watcher 80mm Esprit refractor telescope and Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR camera.

Shane Finnigan made this H-alpha picture of Mercury transiting the Sun from Ottawa, Ontario. He used a Canon 7D DSLR camera and 80mm Antares Sentinel refractor telescope fitted with a Lunt LS60FHa filter set.

Shane Finnigan made this H-alpha picture of Mercury transiting the Sun from Ottawa, Ontario. He used a Canon 7D DSLR camera and 80mm Antares Sentinel refractor telescope fitted with a Lunt LS60FHa filter set for the shot.

If you captured any good photos of the transit, be sure to send us a copy.

Categories: Moon and Planets
One comment on “Mercury’s Day in the Sun
  1. Steve Irvine says:

    So great to see these images from around the country, and the different approaches to observing, enjoying, and photographing the event.

iOptron Photron RC
Celestron -- Holiday Headquarters
Ontario Telescope SkyTech Filters
Give the Gift of SkyNews