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MkrGeo

An original point of view

Astronomy

Mercury transit on November 11, 2019

Transit of Mercury 2019

Pic. 4 12:45 UT

This week commenced with a rare celestial event, which is the transit of Mercury across the solar disk. Unlike the last event such this, what occurred exactly 3,5 years ago, I had no chance to see it 100%. In the UK the event started just after noon and continued down to the sunset (Pic. 1).

2019 Mercury Transit map

Pic. 1 The overall map of the Mercury transit on November 11, 2019 (Fred Espenak, EclipseWise.com).

Because of a short day, as well as the Sun position is on the southern sky, the best conditions to see this event fallen in South America. Both in Europe and the United States people could see the part of the transit.
I decided to work that day and go nowhere in case of bad weather. Fortunately, it wasn’t so bad. I could see the Mercury at least throughout the thin clouds veiling the Sun. Having some experience in this kind of photography, I could get a few decent images showing how the first planet moves across the solar disk. In the other hand, there was also a couple moment when the sky towards solar direction was free of clouds for a longer period. The best weather at the Cambridge Research Park, where I work occurred before the mid-transit. Eventually, though the rain came later, hiding the Sun before 3.30pm and revealing it just before sunset.

Cloudiness circumstances above UK at th Mercury transit.

Pic. 3 The cloudiness circumstances above the UK as seen by Eumetsat. The black arrow shows my observation place (Sat24.com).

The group of clouds was moving from the northwest. The last image shows the best weather condition in the Cambridgeshire area, where I attend to watch the transit.

Now I would like to share some image sequences from this rare celestial event.
The parameters are: 300mm 1/4000s, ISO 100, f/29 for a clear view and 1/4000, ISO 100, f/18 for Baader 5.0. Both have been cropped.

Transit of Mercury 2019

Pic. 4 12:45 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019

Pic. 5 12:47 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 3

Pic. 6 13:11UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 4

Pic. 7 13:12 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 4

Pic. 8 13:16 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 4

Pic. 9 14:18 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 4

Pic. 10 14:23 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 4

Pic. 11 15:14 UT

Transit of Mercury 2019 6

Pic. 12 16:04 UT Mercury with the smallish green rim just above the solar disk.

Let’s take a look at the weather that day in general (Pic. 13-17).

Mercury transit 2019 afternoon

Mercury transit 2019 afternoon2

Pic. 13, 14 – Clouds veiling the Sun in the early afternoon, soon after transit began.

Mercury transit 2019 afternoon3

Pic. 15 Sky above Cambridge Research Park during the first part of the Mercury Transit.

Mercury transit sunset

Mercury transit sunset

Pic. 16-17 Cloudiness above Cambridge Research Park around sunset at the Mercury transit day.

There are about 5 sequences. I couldn’t afford for more, because I was working this day.
The last one was the most interesting. The sun was about to set behind the clouds, but just before, when some smallish pieces of cloud were moving across the solar disk I could spot the position of Mercury on the right side of the Sun. On the opposite side on the top, I spotted another interesting thing, which is a green rim (Pic. 18, 19).

Mercury transit 2019 sequence

Mercury transit 2019 sequence2

Pic. 18, 19 The sequence of pictures presenting the Mercury position on the solar disk at the moment of my observations. The red transparent line shows the visual track of the first planet across the solar disk, which was seen from one observation position.

The green grim (Pic. 12) is produced by different density of the atmospheric layers, through them the Sun is shining just before sunset. This different density of atmospheric layers causes the refraction phenomena too, which leads to change the shape of the solar disk, going to set. Alongside with it, the colors are refracted either, making a curious layout across the Sun. The red and orange colors are refracted less intensively, so they appear at the lower part of the Sun.  More strong refraction of blue and green, which appear always at the upper edge of the Sun. Both the refraction phenomena and atmospheric optics related to this are going to be developed in the future.

Mercury transit 2019 Espenak

Pic. 20 The path of Mercury, crossing the solar disk on November 11, 2019 (Fred Espenak/ Eclipsewise.com).

As a summary of my short observation, I made a stack of 5 major pictures, showing the Mercury movement across the Sun. It doesn’t look as per the template path as shown above (Pic. 20). A major explanation of this its the solar path on the sky and the Sun’s rotation against the horizon. Because my camera was set vertically to the horizon, the solar disk position rotated a bit, curving the visual Mercury’s path as a result. The pattern of this phenomenon is shown in the images below (Pic. 20, 21 ), generated by the Cartes du Ciel Sky Charts 4.0 software.

Mercury transit 2019 Cartes du Ciel

Pic. 21 The estimated position of the Sun with transitting Mercury as seen from East UK according to Cartes du Ciel 4.0.

Mercury transit 2019 Cartes du Ciel 2

Pic. 22 Major 2019 Mercury transit circumstances above Eastern UK according to Cartes du Ciel 4.

It’s analogous to the star constellations, which move across the Sky throughout their path above the horizon. Their position looks completely different after rising against the time when they are about to set (Pic.23 ).

Scorpius constellation Cartes du Ciel

Pic. 23

If you observe the sky from the northern hemisphere, this effect is much better visible for the stars trailing across the southern sky and another way round. Because the Sun in November moves through the southern sky, this effect was better expressed during this transit.
I am glad to carry on the observation, that brought something new to me. Apart from the green rim seen just before sunset, the curved path of the first planet was quite intriguing. I couldn’t see it previously, because I watched the transit shortly twice in the afternoon as well as when I saw rising Sun with Venus inside.

Mariusz Krukar

 

Links:

  1. Green rim – explanation
  2. Mercury transit 2019 – circumstances

 

Read also:

  1. Transit of Mercury – 9 May 2016
  2. Transit of Venus – have you seen this celestial event?
  3. Photography of the Sun through natural filters

 

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