Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Transit

With my intrepid fellow astronomer Wayne and with the help of lab tech extraordinaire Todd, I watched Mercury transit the Sun today. We set up a 10-in telescope with a solar filter, as well as a wee, but impressive, Sunspotter and showed passersby Mercury and a glorious sunspot that had just peaked over the limb of the Sun. I wish it hadn't been 90 degrees here in the desert, but the hot, dry, clear sky provided a great view. It also provided us a great opportunity to play with a camera. Not great pictures, but not bad for just pointing and clicking in the heat.

Mercury - yup, it's just a dot against a vast, brilliant background.









Sunspot!


6 comments:

essentialsaltes said...

That's cool!

Like Copernicus, I've never seen Mercury. That pretty much ends the comparison.

Dr. Lisa said...

Ha! It was so tiny against the Sun. Students were surprised when the big dot turned out to be the sunspot, not the planet.

colleency said...

It looks like a belly button.

Dr. Lisa said...

Ha!

AaronJV said...

That's awesome!

I read about that transition in the news, thought about calling you to share the excitement (decided against), thought about how hot it must be on Mercury, and got myself a beer.

This does not mean that beer is more important than Lisa, just that beer is more conveniently located than Lisa.

Dr. Lisa said...

In a couple of weeks, I'll be more conveniently located for you, alright?

The sunspot looked way niftier than the image shows. We needed to shorten the exposure time, but had so many students around that we didn't have much time to play with the camera.