Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mercury Transit of the Sun Coming May 9, 2016

Venus transit of the sun June 5, 2012
There will a a transit of Mercury across the face of the sun, as seen from earth, on May 9, 2016.  This article on timeanddate.com can tell you when the mercury transit may be available from your location.  It also provides links to information on proper eye protection!

When the planet Venus was scheduled to pass in front of the sun in early June 2012 I wanted to capture the event, but I didn't want to simply record a dark spot in front of a bright one.  So I decided to place earth-bound objects in front of the sun to capture the Sun, Earth and Venus in the same shot.  And why not... the next opportunity to capture a Venus transit across the face of the sun wouldn't come for another 105 years!

My setup for the Venus transit enabled me to shoot it at 400mm:
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III 
  • EF 70-200mm f.4 IS L lens 
  • 2X III Teleconverter
  • Solar film for photographing the sun
Since I was including foreground objects but wanted to catch Venus and the sun as well, depth of field was a concern, so exposures were captured at f/32, 1/500 second, ISO 200.  That's with the solar filter reducing incoming light.

The setup I'm considering for the Mercury transit will enable me to shoot it at 640mm effective:
  • Canon EOS 70D 
  • EF 70-200mm f.4 IS L lens 
  • 2X III Teleconverter
  • Solar film for photographing the sun
This time I'll may track the sun and go for a composite photo showing the path of mercury across it.  In that case I could use an f-stop like f/11 to reduce any image softening from diffraction, so something like f/11, 1/2000 second, ISO 100.

Be careful if you try to capture photos of this event.  The sun can fry your sensor, so don't leave the shutter open in live view for long.  


I'm going to go get a camera or two set up and focused now!

"After centuries of trying, only photographic technology could measure the ‘Transit of Venus’ and tell us our position in the solar system." - +Royal Observatory Greenwich