Transit of Mercury, November 8 2006

Up until one hour before first contact, the sky was completely overcast with light showers, so I had to setup my equipment with an umbrella and plastic covers over the optics and electronics.  Half an hour later, the sky was clear; although, there were light winds with a few moderate gusts.

I used a Meade LX200GPS 10" telescope equipped with a Neutral Density-5 Solar Filter.  For the videos I used a Watec 902-H CCD camera connected to a KIWI Video Time Inserter.  Closeup videos were taken with no Focal Reducer.  At various points throughout the transit, I stopped the video recording to connect a Nikon 35mm SLR camera to the telescope.

Mercury Transit -- Composite

The composite image above was taken with an F6.3 Focal Reducer in front of the 35mm camera.  The image consists of 6 images combined using Adobe Photoshop.  The six tiny dots "moving" left to right is the planet Mercury.  During the almost 5 hour transit, the large sunspot 0923 also moved a bit.  Click on the image to view a larger version. 

At times during video recording, I added an F3.3 Focal Reducer for a wider field of view.  The black and white  image below was taken from the video just after second contact.

Mercury Closeup near Large Sunspot 0923 (CCD)

I also used a 26mm eyepiece to get some close up images with the 35mm camera. The color image below shows sunspot 0923 to the left and Mercury to the right.

Mercury Closeup near Large Sunspot 0923 (35mm)

Around the midpoint of the transit I took another close up with the 35mm camera, and then later I zoomed in on the planet with the video CCD.

Mercury Closeup around mid-transit (35mm)

Mercury Closeup around mid-transit (CCD)

Except for a few gusts of wind, the weather held through out, so I am pleased with the results.  Mercury was right on time, and exactly where SkyMapPro said it would be.  By the end of the transit, the Sun was only 8 degrees above the horizon, and conveniently set between two trees in my back yard.

For creating the following time-lapse video files, I used an Adaptec VideOh Analog to Digital converter, VirtualDub and Windows Movie Maker. 

Contacts 1 & 2, Time Lapse: 10x 17 seconds (small: 900 KB wmv, large: 2.5 MB wmv)

Start of Transit, Closeup, Time Lapse: 20x 14 seconds (small: 777 KB wmv, large: 2.2 MB wmv)

Wide angle view with sunspot 0923, Time Lapse: 200x 27 seconds (small: 1.3 MB wmv, large: 3.7 MB wmv)

Midpoint, Closeup, No Time Lapse: 9 seconds (small: 531 KB wmv, large: 1.5 MB wmv)

End of Transit, Closeup, Time Lapse: 100x 10 seconds (small: 587 KB wmv, large: 1.6 MB wmv)

Contacts 3 & 4, Time Lapse: 10x 17 seconds (small: 896 KB wmv, large: 2.5 MB wmv)

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