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Added by durrantj
9th Dec 2019

NAS Members brave the weather for the Mercury Transit!

It was always going to be hit or miss with the weather for viewing the 2019 Mercury Transit, but on the 11th November a couple of dozen society members including some new faces braved the elements to view this rare event.

Members started arriving at around 11am and the skies looked set for a disappointing day, rain lashed down and dark clouds hung above the observatory. The forecast wasn’t looking too great, but all present were determined to stick around and grab any breaks in the clouds that presented themselves. Waiting for Clear Skies during the Transit of Mercury, by Adrian Orr

First contact was expected for approx. 12:40pm and as everyone piled outside with their scopes and hopes, the rain eased off and potential breaks in the clouds were sighted.

There were groans and expletives as the cloud toyed with everyone’s optimism but after a while a shout went out “Yes!” Chris was the first to glimpse the transit through his Takahashi refractor with a white light solar filter fitted over the objective.

Other members using dedicated hydrogen alpha solar telescopes or telescopes fitted with safe white light filters began to announce that they had also obtained a view of the event. Members without telescopes took turns taking views through other members equipment.

Some of the NAS members observing the Mercury Transit by Jason Durrant

 

Miraculously over the next hour the clouds slowly cleared, and the blue sky offered an unobstructed view of the sun, all members present got to watch the transit in progress. Slowly everyone migrated west down the site by stages moving to better vantage points as the sun’s angle dropped lower and lower in the sky. During the transit other members arrived and joined in viewing the event.

By 3pm the sun was getting very low in the sky and everyone took their last chance to catch a glimpse of Mercury’s passage across the face of our nearest stellar object, never to traverse the solar disc again until 2032.

All too soon it was time to pack the kit away and give thanks for our luck with the break in the weather. Afocal image of the Mercury Transit by Jason Durrant

 

Thanks to Jason Durrant for this report and to Jason Durrant and Adrian Orr for their photography.

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