Mercury is one of the most difficult planets in terms of astronomical observations due to its proximity to the Sun. The maximum angular distance from the Sun to Mercury is from 18 to 28 degrees and before the astronomical twilight the planet manages to quickly fall to the horizon, limiting the duration of observations, and due to atmospheric dispersion, Mercury looks like a small rainbow. However, on May 9, 2016, half of the inhabitants of our planet had the opportunity to admire Mercury for several hours, as it passes through the disk of the Sun. The phenomenon is very rare, the next time it will happen in 2019.
The weather was sunny in the morning, only occasionally clouds ran through the sky. I made observations in my yard with two other amateur astronomers – Slava and Ilya. Equipment – Celestron NexStar 8 SE telescope with Baader Astrosolar Photo film, Celestron 102 \ 660 + Coronado PST, Sky-Watcher BK705AZ3 with aperture filter NPZ, Canon 550D camera. Slava brought his telescope – Celestron NexStar 6 SE. We were impatiently waiting for the transit to begin (14:11), but we could not see it – large and thick clouds covered the sky. The sky only opened at 14:26 and I immediately started shooting.
Mercury was perfectly visible in all instruments, slowly moving along the disk of the Sun. I don’t even know how to describe my feelings during observations … Joy, admiration, surprise …
Clouds continued to run through the sky, interfering with the long shooting. In the gaps, I watched and photographed the Sun, and during the next influx of clouds, we had a small tea party as a sign of observation 🙂 After a few hours, Mercury moved noticeably from the edge of the Sun.
I took one of the last shots at 17:35 through a 70 mm refractor. I made observations until 18:34, but the planet was already visible only through the branches of trees.
The shooting material turned out quite a lot, I will gradually process and upload the result 🙂
I am very glad that I was able to see this rare and wonderful phenomenon. Before that, I saw only the transit of Venus on the disk of the Sun on June 6, 2012, and it was no less exciting.