The Transit of
phenomenon is when the two inner planets Mercury and Venus pass
in front of the sun. I recall seeing the Transit of Mercury as
a young lad from my front garden in 1973. Still buzzing from my
eclipse trip in August 1999, I realised there was another Transit
of Mercury visible on November 15th from the South West US. Well
this seemed a great opportunity to pop over and see Glenn at Pocono
West and do a little shopping, view a Transit of Mercury, and
watch the Leonids from Death Valley. So that was it. Managed to
get a cheap flight so off I went.
I had intended to take
up an invitation from the Griffiths Observatory to join them in
their front garden, but there appeared to be a couple of fronts
moving in, so we decided to head inland instead. Eventually we
ended up in Death Valley, and set up in a car park at the roadside.
The sky was hazy, but I managed to get some images using a Meade
ETX 90 with a 2x converter and the same TK1070 video camera that
I used for the eclipse in August that year. Unfortunately the
image was a bit bright, so a ripped Coors beer case was employed
as a makeshift aperture mask.
A sequence of images
captured from the Sony Video Walkman using a Neotec card
An animated Gif generated
by Richard Robinson from the above images, the length of the transit
is rather long and a little inaccurate as Richard had no reference
point to match on the disk. This was due to me setting up the
system in a hurry and not having an accurately aligned mount for
the focal length! Either way it gives you an idea of what was
The setup for recording
the Transit. I took two lenses a 150 -500mm Tokina lens, and the
ETX 90 (1250mm), and a OM 2x converter for extra mag if I needed
it. I wasn't exactly sure what I would be able to see at what
1999 . ...............
Transit of Mercury May 7th 2003 ............. Annular
Eclipse May 31st 2003
the Sun ...