May 09, 2016: The Transit of Mercury

Michael Richmond
May 10, 2016
May 11, 2016

Thanks very much to the many people who graciously volunteered their time, equipment and expertise to our event: Leo Kellett, Roger Easton, Stacey Davis, Jen Connelly, Andy Lipnicky, Kristina Punzi, Triana Almeyda, Dan Wysocki, and Kevin Cooke.

During the day of May 09, 2016, we observed the transit of Mercury -- a trip which took the little planet over seven hours. One of our visitors took the image below through our 10-inch Cave Astrola telescope (a gracious donation from Larry and Kristopher Lavery). You can see Mercury at lower left, about three-quarters of its way across the disk of the Sun, heading from right to left.

Image courtesy of Lucas Quesnel

We set up several telescopes to view the event, some projecting the image onto paper, others equipped with special solar filters. Below, NTID instructor Stacey Davis aims the 10-inch Cave with its filter:

Image captured from a video taken by Time-Warner Cable News

Professor Roger Easton of RIT's Center for Imaging Sciences brought his Quester and offered it to our visitors. As he checks out the view in the picture below, Stacey explains the geometry of the transit to one of her NTID colleagues.

Image captured from a video taken by Time-Warner Cable News

Leo Kellett, a member of the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Sciences (ASRAS), brought his special solar-viewing telescope and its hydrogen-alpha filter to the party. His instrument was voted as giving the "best views of the Sun" by many visitors and staff.

Image captured from a video taken by Time-Warner Cable News

Over the course of the day, from 8 AM to about 3 PM, we showed the transit to many visitors; we estimate the number to be around 50 to 70. A group of three students from Dr. Billy Vazquez' astronomy class came and took a series of photographs, several of which appear here. I hope that they receive some extra credit!

Image courtesy of Lucas Quesnel

One of the easiest and most effective ways to show the transit was eyepiece projection. We had some funnel-plus-paper devices left over from the Venus transit four years ago, and set two of them up. Andy Lipnicky took this photograph of the screen attached to our Meade 6-inch reflector. You can see a sunspot to the left of vcenter, and the tiny dot of Mercury just below center. The orientation of this image is reflected left-right relative to the image at the start of this page, which was taken directly through an eyepiece.

Image courtesy of Andy Lipnicky.

If you'd like to watch a short video taken by the team at Time-Warner Cable News, just click on the image below.

Last modified 5/10/2016 by MWR.