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Wed, 11 May 2016 - The Transit of Mercury 2016.

The transit of mercury across the face of the Sun on the 9th of May proved a great success for SPA members and, particularly, for members of the planetary section. Such a transit is a relatively rare event, the last transit of Mercury was in May 2003, and the next one will not be until 2019; but that event will not be fully observable from the UK. Against all usual expectations the weather was generally fair across the country and particularly clear across northern England and Scotland, indeed sunburn was a possible problem while observing the transit; not a usual problem for astronomers to have to deal with.

Observing and timing transit events like these from differing latitudes across the Earth was originally proposed as a geometrical method for calculating the size of the Astronomical Unit,  the distance of the Earth from the Sun, but modern observations are more about the rarity and interest-value of the event. However, seeing the relative size of a planet with the mighty Sun does rather give one a sense of proportion and of our significance in the universe.

Below are some of the images contributed by section members and more will be added as they arrive.

Alan Clitherow:-        

This excellent image was sent in by Graham Sparrow:-










































And this one by Steve Norrie shows mercury well in transit as a tiny dot.






















As does this sharply defined view from Paul Crossland.




















John Chapman Smith projected the solar image onto the back of a white tray while on holiday in the Canary Islands and photographed the result:-





















Carl Bowron sent in some wonderfully detailed images of Mercury near the small sunspot groups and a sequence showing first to second contact:-







































































































And Martin lewis also caught the start of the event on the Sun's limb.


















While Ralf Vandebergh imaged a very slight black-drop effect at second contact showing the apparent distortion of the Sun's limb.

 Peter Parish sent in a detailed report of his day spent visually observing the event with his family and friends, one of whom, Trevor Canon, also took an image of the transit:-




















Recently Emma Bowron added her own excellent images of the event:-
































































In August Ian Phelps sent me an excellent summary of his observations throughout the day of the transit event and I am pleased to add two sketches he made showing the ingress and egress of Mercury along with a detailed track of the planets position on the solar disk. He also sent a number of photographs of projected solar images showing Mercury approaching the sunspot group clearly seen in some of the other images shown above; excellent work.

































If any other SPA members would like to show thier images of the transit of Mercury then they can send them to me for inclusion here.


Alan Clitherow.


















































Added by: Alan Clitherow