Students Observe Mercury Transit
Yesterday a group of Stamford School students, many astronomy enthusiasts, viewed the rare transit of the planet Mercury.
A transit is the passing of a planet across the Sun's bright disk. During this time, the planet can be seen as a small black disk slowly moving in front of the Sun. The orbits of Mercury and Venus lie inside Earth's orbit, so they are the only planets which can pass between Earth and Sun to produce a transit. Transits are very rare astronomical events.
The orbit of Mercury has a particularly ‘rakish’ tilt and for this reason from the Earth’s vantage point mercury usually passes above or below the Sun. Mercury is very small so the transit is not visible without magnification such as binoculars or a telescope.
The students used the Stamford Endowed Schools’ solar scope, a dedicated piece of equipment for viewing the sun, to view the transit.
Stamford School Physics teacher, Mr Sam Jordan, said “The next similar events will take place in 2019 and then 2032. The last transit of Venus was in 2002 and the next transit of Venus will not take place until 2117.”