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BAA Observing Sections Mercury and Venus

Transit of Mercury video

Seven members of Newbury Astronomical Society visited Francis Baily Primary School in Thatcham to view the transit and to give the children at the school an opportunity to see the event. We were lucky with the weather, having good breaks in the cloud that allowed us to see most of the ingress phase, from which the accompanying video was compiled. A continuous 5-minute video was recorded through a Meade LX-10 SCT fitted with a Baader Astrosolar filter, using a ZWO monochrome webcam. First contact was seen about 1½ minutes into the recording as a tiny notch in the Sun’s limb, which promptly vanished behind one of the only clouds in the sky! After about 30 seconds the Sun reappeared, with the notch now very obvious, and the sky remained clear for the rest of the recording.

Segments of the video with a duration of 3 seconds each were selected and processed individually in Autostakkert and Registax to yield higher-quality images. These were then combined into a short time-lapse movie which is presented here, covering around 2 minutes of the event speeded up to last 10 seconds.

During the remainder of the afternoon we were visited by each class of children in turn, so they could see the transit and learn what was occurring. Clouds intervened at times, but on those occasions they were able to watch the ingress video to get a flavour of what was happening. Everyone seemed to appreciate the opportunity, especially when they learned that the next transit would not be visible for thirteen years. Several of the children commented that they would be in their twenties by that time.

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