Transit of Mercury, 9 May 2016

Posted by Fiona Lambert (fiona) on Apr 11 2016
Society News >>

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the weather is against us this time, so the transit will not be visible. Therefore, the event in Millennium square will not be taking place. 


On 9th May, starting just after noon, there will be a chance to see a rare ' transit of Mercury'. Weather permitting, BAS will be joining with At-Bristol and Sky-at-Night Magazine to hold a free, safe 'Transit of Mercury Solar Party' in Millennium Square, not far from At-Bristol. Lasting for about eight hours, the sihlouette of the planet Mercury drifting directly between the Earth and the Sun will be visible in daylight against the background of the Sun's disc. 

It’s going to be a bit tricky to see, even if the weather is good, because Mercury will appear as a very small dot slowly moving across the Sun, and observing the Sun can be a hazardous thing to try. Specifically, it needs telescopes that are specially adapted to the purpose, or telescopes dedicated to solar observing. Note that binoculars are a real danger unless they are used to project the image of the Sun onto a screen for indirect viewing. The type of solar eclipse glasses that we all had for the March 2015 eclipse will protect you if you’re just looking at the Sun, but not if you use a telescope or binoculars.

BAS, At-Bristol and Sky-at-Night Magazine will have a selection of instruments with which to safely view the event. We will have a number of special solar telescopes for the public to look through, and there’ll be plenty of time for everyone to look as long as they like! We are also hoping to project a live video stream of the event on to At-Bristol's large outdoor screen. Even if it is overcast, there should be a stream of images from observatories around the world that have better weather.

Please drop by to see us as it will be a great chance to see other solar phenomena, including solar prominances and sunspots, and also to find out a bit more about the dynamics of our closest star, the Sun. Event runs from midday to 6pm, suitable for all ages.

Last changed: May 08 2016 at 8:00 PM