I present my 9-minute mini-documentary of the November 11, 2019 transit of Mercury. My video features the transit recorded in real-time 4K movies, narrated live at the telescope by me as the transit was happening.
This was the last transit of Mercury across the Sun we will see from North America until May 2049. So I rather wanted see and shoot this one!
The video also includes still images, composites, and a time-lapse movie of the transit.
I shot these over the three hours the transit was visible from my location in southern Alberta, from sunrise just before 8 a.m. MST with the transit in progress, until Mercury exited the Sun just after 11 a.m. MST.
The morning was cold, at -20° C to -15° C, but very clear, remarkable for November. The next day the temperature warmed to 0° C, more seasonable, but the clouds came in, again more normal for November. So we were very lucky indeed.
I shot through two telescopes, described below, and observed through two others depicted in the video: an 80mm A&M apo refractor with a Baader bino viewer, and a Coronado PST H-alpha telescope. The views through both were fabulous!
The H-alpha scope is a dedicated solar scope. The three other refractors all had solar filters over their front apertures.
The music features selections by Adi Goldstein licensed from AGSoundtrax.com.
eBook on Nightscape and Time-Lapse photography: www.amazingsky.com/ nightscapesbook.html
I shot the transit over three hours through two of the telescopes depicted in the video:
– the Astro-Physics Traveler, a 105mm aperture apo refractor,
– and the Astro-Physics 130mm EDF apo refractor, two scopes I’ve owned since the early 1990s, but that still rate among the finest of their class.
On the Traveler I used a cropped-frame Canon 60Da shooting through a 2X Barlow lens for an effective focal length of 1200mm at f/12. I used this scope and camera for the close-up video of the egress at the end, using the camera in its unique 640×480 Movie Crop mode. Plus the still images for the final time-lapse and composite came from this camera, shooting frames every 15 seconds for 3 hours. However, the finale time-lapse made use of frames taken every 1 minute (I selected the sharpest frames from each 1-minute block), while the final composite uses frames taken at 5-minute intervals, again picking the sharpest frames from a set.
On the 130mm EDF I used a Canon EOS Ra full-frame mirrorless camera, but in its cropped-frame mode to enlarge the disk of the Sun in relation to the frame size. This scope was at f/6 providing a focal length of 800mm. The narrated 4K movies came from this camera and scope. When shooting 4K movies Canon’s EOS R cameras crop the frame by 1.8x, an often criticized feature, but which worked to advantage in this case, to enlarge the Sun. The composite in the opening title is from this camera, using frames taken every 10 minutes.