The Mercury Transit Tomorrow, Nov. 11th, the planet Mercury will pass between Earth and the Sun, appearing to take a leisurely stroll across the Sun over a period of about 5.5 hours.  Unfortunately, it is likely to be cloudy here, and even it it isn’t, this “transit” as it is called will be more than half over by the time the Sun comes up.  But on the East coast people will get to see most of it, weather permitting. Because Mercury and Venus are closer to the Sun than Earth is, we get to see them somewhat differently than we do the […]

Summer Sun

Now that Summer is upon us, I’ve been using a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope to take pictures of our Sun: Taking pictures of the Sun is quite different from the “deep space” photography that I normally do.  It actually felt weird to be taking pictures in the observatory during the day.  And the exposures are so short!  With deep space images you need to capture multiple long exposures and “stack” (combine) them to reveal the dim details.  You can’t do very much stacking with solar images because the details actually change pretty quickly, so they would become blurred in a combined […]

Image of the Mercury Transit

The fates conspired to keep from going to a star party this past weekend, where I had intended to shoot a full sequence of the Mercury transit so that I could combine them into a composite image showing the path of Mercury across the Sun.  The weather at home was predicted to be very cloudy, but I set up everything anyway, and was rewarded for my efforts with several long periods of sunshine. I got about 200 frames with Mercury in various places along its path.  These could and should be combined to produce a less noisy image, but I […]

Mercury Transit May 9th

Starting at about 4AM (U.S. west coast time), the planet Mercury will cross the face of the Sun.  I’ve never photographed a Mercury transit before, but captured the above Venus transit back in 2012.  Mercury has such transits much more frequently than Venus, but it also appears as a smaller disk. If you’re not interested enough to get up at 4AM, don’t worry, the transit doesn’t end until 11:39AM.  However, you do have to worry about safety in observing the transit.  Unlike a solar eclipse, the Sun will appear at full brightness and you wouldn’t be able to see Mercury […]

Transit of Venus

Buy a Print On June 5th, 2012 Venus crossed between Earth and the Sun. This will not happen again until 2117, so while it is not the most exciting astronomical event, it is quite rare.  This shot was taken through a “solar filter” that greatly reduces the brightness of the Sun, making it possible to see not only the silhouette of Venus, but also several sunspots. The trees, however, are somewhat fake. It is not possible for us to see anything so dark as these trees at the same time as these details on the surface of the Sun, although […]