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Transit of Mercury: The View From You

The inner-planet Mercury put things into perspective.

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On May 9, 2016, a rare event happened. The tiny planet Mercury’s orbit passed directly between our own Earth’s orbit and the Sun. When an object passes in between us and another celestial body, it is referred to as a transit.

Christian Fröschlin Mercury Transit Animation
Mercury Transit GIF animation. Photo: Christian Fröschlin

The transit of Mercury [Wikipedia] had astrophotographers located on much of the globe salivating at the chance to capture an event such as this, because it only happens a few times each century.

For about 7.5 hours a tiny black dot, the planetary disc of Mercury, blocked a very small part of our view of the Sun from Earth as it moved along its orbit. During that time, the Internet exploded with social media sharing of images, stories, and live video streams from around the globe. From professional-quality feeds from worldwide space agencies, to amateur astrophotographers and enthusiasts alike, everyone was excited to share their views.

Mercury Transit Animation: Christopher Becke
Mercury Transit Animation. Photo: Christopher Becke

We often see computer models explaining the relative sizes of celestial bodies or superimposed images of the earth next to a solar filament or sunspot in an attempt to demonstrate the sheer size differences of our planet vs. the Sun, but none of those is as powerful as seeing this happen in reality, on our cameras or through our telescopes, with our own eyes. And don’t forget that in the grand scheme of things, the Sun is a relatively small star!

Our features

Our own PhotographingSpace.com Image of the Week featured one of our reader’s submissions, and we’ve also featured a story that does a wonderful job detailing the intense dedication often required, the frustration, and the eventual excitement of astrophotography as a hobby. Read it here: Behind the Image: 20 Seconds to Success.

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About the author

Cory Schmitz

Co-founder of PhotographingSpace.com, co-owner of several telescopes and mounts, too many cameras, and not enough hard drives, Cory is an American expat living in South Africa with his wife, Tanja Schmitz.

An avid astrophotographer for timelapse, deep-space imaging, lunar, planetary, and star trail imagery, he is an all-around jack-of-most-trades for night-sky photography.

He is also an internationally published and commissioned astrophotographer, where his photos have been used in multiple online and print publications.

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