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The Transit of Mercury - May 9th 2016


On Monday May 9th 2016, CMHASD held an Open Day at the Parsonage Lane Pavilion, for CMHASD members & for members of the public to hopefully view the rare spectacle of the Transit of Mercury, when Mercury passes between Earth and the Sun.

It turned out to be an absolutely fantastic day and one that people who were there will not forget.

It was a warm sunny day with clear skies at the start and come 12.12pm BST we were rewarded with the first views of the planet Mercury with first contact, passing the Sun's eastern limb & all in front of a huge prominence too!!!

Members used a variety of techniques to view & image the transit for nearly 3 hours (with a few breaks due to cloud cover) until a little after 3pm when it started to rain. Mercury looked wonderful against the backdrop of the Sun, a little uniform black dot making its way across the face of the Sun. There was no mistaking it for a sunspot either because it was so clearly uniformly black & round. It was visually easy to spot too despite fears it may not be seen that well which was pleasing for those members who were visually observing rather than imaging. There was no missing or mistaking that little black dot!

As you will see from the first photo below, taken by Chairman Simon Dawes, lots of people were there that day and a good time was had by all.

CMHASD would like to thank publicity officer & trustee Honor Wheeler for organising the day - it was a super day.

CMHASD would also like to thank the following members for sharing their photos & images below...Simon Dawes, Andy Smith, Dr Mike Rushton, Martin Crow, Honor Wheeler, Diane Clarke, Gordon Collings & David Freed.

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CMHASD's Transit of Mercury Open Day at the Parsonage Lane Pavilion - May 9th 2016. Photo taken by Chairman Simon Dawes.


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Transit of Mercury 2016 - first & second contact - in white light by member Andy Smith. The specific times for each frame left to right are: 12:14:19 BST - 12:14:50 BST - 12:15:11 BST - 12:15:22 BST - 12:15:53 BST.


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Transit of Mercury 2016 - first contact - in white light by Simon Dawes. Mercury is the black dot at the bottom of the disc. There is a sunspot, centre right, in the image, which is sunspot AR2542.


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A close up of Simon Dawes first contact image above.



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Transit of Mercury 2016 - second contact - in white light by member Honor Wheeler. Mercury is the little black dot on the lower left hand side of the image. You cannot miss it!

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Transit of Mercury 2016 - a close up of the image above by Honor Wheeler showing second contact in white light. The large sunspot to the upper right, is sunspot AR2542 which is on it's second journey around the Sun. It was sunspot number AR2529 back in April when it famously took on the shape of a heart during is first journey around the Sun.


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Members Ramsey Thomson & John Sowle using the projection method to view the transit.

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CMHASD members busy viewing the transit....
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Members Honor Wheeler & Rob Wilson discussing the finer points of imaging.
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Honor helping members Steve Floodgate & David Freed with viewing the transit.
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Member Diane Clarke busy viewing the transit.
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Chairman Simon Dawes checking his equipment is working.....
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Member Shelley Filippi using the projection method to view the transit.
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Member Jim Burchell checking his equipment is working....
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Member Rita Whiting using the projection method too to view the transit.
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The Transit of Mercury in progress, the little black dot on the right side of the white disc (which is the Sun) is the planet Mercury :)
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A very special small black dot - the planet Mercury.

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Transit of Mercury in Hydrogen Alpha by member Honor Wheeler. Taken at 11.49am UT (Universal time) or 12.49pm BST (British Summer Time).


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A stunning image of the Transit of Mercury - second contact - in white light by member Andy Smith. The image was taken at 1pm BST.


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Another stunning image of the Transit of Mercury in white light by Andy Smith. This is Andy's last image of the day, taken at 3.03.44pm BST and shows Mercury on its way to passing sunspot AR2543 & the large sunspot AR2542. The image has been produced from a 5 second video capture, using equipment: Celestron CG-5 mount, SkyWatcher 100ED, 1.25" Herschel Wedge and a NexImage 5 planetary camera. The software used was: iCap for capture and Registax 6 and Adobe CC for post processing.


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A super image showing the planet Mercury crossing in front of the Sun. This image was taken by Honor in white light at 3.10pm BST.




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Members Andy Barber & Andy Smith.
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Member Andy Smith busy imaging in white light.
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Member Andy Barber confirming transit contact times with Andy Smith.
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Members David Freed & Steve Floodgate busy viewing the transit.
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Whose that man ....hiding behind the telescope????


Meanwhile...in Paddock Wood, Kent, member Dr Mike Rushton acquired this super image of the Transit of Mercury from his observatory at home....


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Image taken at 14:10 UT using a C8 with f/6.3 focal reducer, Canon 60D @1/500 sec & ISO100.



AND member Gordon Collings took these three super images at his home in Kent.....


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AND in Burnham on Crouch, Essex, member Martin Crow took these two great images of the Transit of Mercury at 2.46pm & 2.55pm BST in Hydrogen Alpha.

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Below are photos taken by member Diane Clarke.....thank you Diane....
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Members busy setting up....
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John & Simon imaging :-)
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The transit in progress...
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The projection method method being used to view the transit....
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Waiting for the clouds to part....or better still to go away!



Below is the advert that was used for the day.....including a link to the BAA (British Astronomical Association) article about the Transit of Mercury.

Open Day - The Transit of Mercury


On Monday May 9th, 2016, from around 12.00 until 19.45, the planet Mercury will pass in front of the Sun, known as the Transit of Mercury.

On that day, CMHASD will have a range of telescopes available for the public to see the rare event at our Open Day at the Parsonage Lane Pavilion.

If you own your own telescope you are welcome to bring that along but please make sure that it is set up correctly for solar viewing. If in any doubt - seek advice before using.


The pavilion will open from 11.00am.


If you are not sure where we are based, click here to be taken to our 'Contact Us' page for directions.


Never look at the sun through a telescope without a solar filter fitted.
Please click here to read about how to view the sun safely.


The BAA (British Astronomical Association) has written an article about the Transit of Mercury on the 9th May 2016. Click here to view the article on their website. You can also download a PDF copy of the article too.






CMHASD - TransitOfMercury