Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Monday, December 7, 2015
But that brings up occultations that SDO will see. Next year we will see a transit of Mercury across the disk of the Sun on May 9, 2016. Here is a movie of the transit (using our predicted ephemeris, but it should be fairly close.)
Mercury is smaller and further from the Earth, so, compared to the transit of Venus in 2012, it will be a smaller disk as it passes between SDO and the Sun. Due to the shorter orbital period, transits of Mercury are more common than transits of Venus.
Johannes Kepler predicted a transit of Mercury would occur in November 1631. The first observed transit of Mercury was on November 7, 1631 by Pierre Gassendi. This was the first observed planet transit and showed that Kepler's equations of planetary motion could be used to predict the positions of planets.
SDO will provide near-realtime pictures of the Mercury Transit at a dedicated webpage. More details as the time approaches.
While you are waiting, grab your binoculars and go watch Venus disappear behind the Moon!