Transit of Mercury ~ 11 November 2019

in #science2 years ago

"Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another."
- Plato -

Yesterday, once again,

I proved that someone rather inept, late to the party, and all too careless, can still gain good value from making an effort to observe the beauty of the heavens. Despite all my shortcomings, I was able to observe the November 2019 transit of Mercury across the face of the sun.


The Planet Mercury (Color Enhanced) ~ Photo courtesy of skeeze

Out here near the left coast,

I knew that the transit would already be in progress when the sun rose in the morning. This meant that I would not be able to view the ingress of Mercury in front of the sun. So I was lazy, and didn't get up and about until about 9AM PST.

At that time, the sun had as yet not risen above the trees adjacent to our yard.

I collected my tripod and binoculars, only to discover that the little screw that enables me to attach the binoculars to the tripod was missing. Oops...

The next discovery was that the focuser on the binoculars had somehow been broken. Double oops...


Binoculars precariously attached to tripod... 
Photo by author.

Undaunted, I gathered some rubber bands, some package tape, and some zip ties, and went out to the yard anyway. After several trial attempts to attach the binoculars to the tripod, I finally settled on a zip tie that seemed to work reasonably well.

I also grabbed a piece of cardboard with a nice, bright white surface to use as a projection screen, and headed out into the yard with my motley collection of equipment.


Sun projected on white cardboard. 
Photo by author.

The binocular eyepieces responded to the temporary application of a rubber band to hold them in place, but it was still something of a trick to get the one eyepiece I used focused reasonably well. Once I was able to get a reasonable image projected on the cardboard, I began to snap pictures with my cellphone camera.

Despite my many faux pas, I managed to capture a series of images of the transit even though my cellphone camera was hand-held.


Two frame "blink scope" image of Mercury transit (lower right corner) 
Photo by author.

I've taken two of the best images and converted them into an animated GIF. If you look closely at the lower right-hand corner of the GIF, you can see the silhouette of Mercury in two positions, flipping back and forth. Of course, the planet was only moving in one direction. The position closer to the edge of the sun is the final image... Nevertheless, the animation helps you, the viewer, to spot the planet without my having to draw ugly arrows on the images.

NOTE: If you compare the apparent motion of the planet in my images with diagrams on the internet, the angle of passage seems very off... This is due to the fact that my camera was hand-held, and that the rotation of the sun in the two images I've shared here is not accurate. Nevertheless, that ghostly shadow in the lower right of the GIF is the silhouette of Mercury, and I snapped the photos myself while it was happening... :D

The moral of my tale?

Don't wait until you have the best equipment. Seize the day! Go forth and observe the beauty of God's creation and enjoy what you see.


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I heard about this in the news good for you persistence does payoff thanks for sharing. @creatr

Thanks, Troy. :)

I saw the picture flipping back and forth speck in my eye or your GiF., lol. Don't know why we want to observe things for ourselves when NASA handles these things quite well, but it caused me to think of the folly of sending human beings to Mars or beyond when the risk-benefit ratio favours using robotics. Isn't that what the aliens do?- they certainly don't risk cosmic radiation and micro-particle collision for the pride of transporting their flesh to distant worlds :) Yeah, tall grays or large headed dwarfs are robots for sure because, face it- if they were organic they'd surely look like us ha ha.

Ah, the speck is faint... you may need to zoom in on the lower right corner, particularly if you're looking on a hand-held...

I know why I want to observe things for myself... For the experience. For the view.

Why do you walk in the rain? Why stand on the seashore? Surely you could send a surrogate, your proxy to tell you about the wind in your hair? No?

Folly? Then I am a fool. I want to go to Mars, personally in my own flesh. I want to plumb the depths of the lava tubes in the flank of Olympus Mons, and see for my self what mysteries lie within, risk-benefit ratio be damned.



Thanks, my friend, but yes, there is a difference between being out in the air which is free and spending billions so a human can risk life and limb to perform a task a machine can do better :)

Oh, I think you know, John, that I am absolutely opposed to the forced "spending of billions" for such a task... Robbery, no matter if prettied up by calling it "taxation" or "your fair share," is an utterly evil way to fund such efforts, even those performed by machines.

What I'm talking about is voluntary.

More to the point, no machine can see for me or experience for me, much as I may enjoy poring over the pictures they send back. I might as well be a brain in a box, unable to touch, feel, or smell...

And you can rest assured I'll not be holding a gun to your head to make you pay for my trip to Mars... ;) It shall be my billions, and my risk, all engaged in under my own volition.

Have you ever read C.S. Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet?" The first in his "space trilogy," highly recommended. That is the flavor of the human adventure I crave. I will of course invite you to come along, but I will not compel you. ;)

When you get to the point of spending your billions, my friend, throw a few pesos my way, for friendship's sake, lol

I'll look at Lewis' book :)

When I have access to those billions, my friend, it will all be part of the Commonwealth of Glory—a.k.a. our joint inheritance with Christ—and thus you will be my fellow billionaire...

Make that trillions... No, actually, we will have literally unimaginable wealth at our disposal, wealth that will give us the liberty to do and become whatever we aspire to.

All by the grace of King Jesus.


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