Saturday, May 14, 2016

2016 Mercury Transit

The Mercury transit...

Well, I almost missed it. Most of Texas (and the United States, for that matter) was socked in with clouds. The few places that were clear were too far for me to travel.

But amateur astronomers almost always hold on to at least a little bit of hope, even when the odds are overwhelmingly against us. We patiently scan the sky for "sucker holes" and engage in our preferred ritual superstitions to drive away the clouds. (Yeah, I know, we're supposed to be scientific and all that...but desperate circumstances often lead to desperate actions.)

The sky DID clear up for a few minutes--at least enough for me to focus and get a few shots in. It's nothing spectacular, but here it is:

Click here for the full-size version.

Mercury is the dot to the upper-right of center. The big sunspot group to the left is AR2542. Other smaller sunspot groups are also visible.

This is a stack of four exposures, each 1/2000th of second at ISO-100, taken with a Canon T3 on my Orion ShortTube 80. I used an Orion full-aperture solar filter, and the Baader Contrast Booster (to reduce chromatic aberration). The images were stacked and wavelet sharpened in RegiStax5. I did an "auto color" correction in Photoshop CS6 to brighten the image a bit.

Click here to see my images of the 2012 Venus transit.