Great Weather For Observing The Mercury Transit From Queen’s University Belfast
On Monday 9th May 2016, Mercury transited the Sun. During the day the Astrophysics Research Centre of Queen’s University Belfast, together with the Irish Astronomical Association, set up telescopes equipped with special solar filters in front of the Lanyon Building to allow the general public to take a close-up look at this unique event.
During the day, more than 500 people took the opportunity to see our smallest planet journey across the face of the Sun.
In the afternoon several school groups attended our special workshops where they were treated to a virtual tour of the Solar System, got a live view of the transit of Mercury through the telescopes and did some real science by calculating the size of Mercury from their observations.
In the evening Professor Patrick Brady gave the Michael West Lecture entitled Einstein's Gravity: from the transit of Mercury to the detection of gravitational waves. More than 110 people attended this captivating lecture on probably the hottest topic in astronomy at the moment.
Dr. Ernst de Mooij gave school pupils a guided tour of our solar-system
Safety first. Pupils from St. Dominic's Grammar School made sure to wear solar glasses when viewing the Sun.
Getting a close-up view of our smallest planet
Viewing the transit of Mercury through a telescope equipped with a white-light filter
A pupil gets an extraordinary view of the Sun and Mercury using this telescope equipped with a Hydrogen-Alpha filter
Using their telescope observations pupils were able to measure the relative diameters of the Sun and Mercury. Dr. David Young helped to show pupils how to use these relative measurements to calculate the true physical diameter of the rocky planet.
Taken by Paul Evans, President of the IAA, outside QUB on May 9.
Taken by Paul Evans, President of the IAA.
Mercury transiting the Sun as seen through a Takahashi Telescope equiped with a white light filter. Credit: Paul Evans, president of the IAA.
Mercury transiting the Sun as seen in H-alpha. Taken by Paul Evans, President of the IAA, outside QUB with a Lumix G3 mirrorless camera attached via a Micro Four-Thirds to 1.25" eyepiece adaptor to Michael O'Connell's solar scope - a 90mm short tube refractor with Coronado Max filters at both ends - ie a front filter and a wedge giving an excellent Ha view of the Sun with structure and prominences.
Prof. Brady during the lecture
Dr. Ernst de Mooij, Prof. Stephen Smartt (Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre) and Prof. Patrick Brady
Ernst is the current Michael West fellow who works on exoplanets and public outreach at Queen’s.