22nd century kiddies terrified by theregister cobweb
"[...] won’t be seen again until December 2117, so if you're reading this you've missed your last chance to see it"
Mercury, the smallest planet in our Solar System, appeared as a tiny black dot on Monday as it crossed the Sun’s surface in between the Earth and its star. Images captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) show a stark silhouette of a spherical object floating across the bright orange backdrop of the Sun. The …
At a time when the church was encouraging us to happily burn witches, there were some very clever people around who really could think outside the box and realise there was more to the universe than others would like them to believe.....
I'm always amazed at how much knowledge could be shared between these visionaries/scholars in different countries long before there was a recognised postal service, let alone jet planes, international conferences and the interweb.... If only they could see where we are now.
I had both hydrogen alpha and white light solar telescopes out at work and encouraged 150 or more kids (and some teachers) to see the transit (between the clouds). The response was either "Ah!" and "Oh!" or "Ah." and "Oh." at the view of a small black dot on a big bright disk :-)
The News at Ten report last night was amazingly bland ... they didn't even pick up that in Britain something astronomical was happening and we weren't totally clouded out!
At least if I managed to inspire one of those kids I probably did my job.
It has to happen when Mercury crosses the ecliptic, which is the plane of Earth's orbit. Mercury's orbit is inclined at 7 degrees to the ecliptic and the apparent diameter of the Sun from Earth is 0.5 degrees, so the alignment doesn't happen easily. Also the Earth has to be in the right place in its orbit, which is a space about the diameter of the Sun across: 800,000 miles: that's about a 15 hour window.
We still kept going, showing people live streams from Slooh, and playing my (very quick and dirty, and somewhat irregularly sampled) time lapse of the 2016 transit in a loop (on youtube right here). They also liked seeing the telescopes, and taking a tour of the observatory. I did manage to take some shots of the transit of Venus in 2004 on film. After scanning the results, I even managed a little time lapse shown here. The 2012 transit was clouded out.
As does the Moon!
"During the event, the Moon could almost always also be seen in transit, although due to the distance between Earth and Moon, sometimes one body completes the transit before the other begins (this last occurred in the 1800 transit, and will happen again in 2394). "
Also the Curiosity rover saw a transit of Mercury from Mars.
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