CEDAR email: NJIT-CSTR movie of Mercury Transit

Andrew Gerrard gerrard at njit.edu
Tue May 10 11:31:53 MDT 2016

The New Solar Telescope (NST) of NJIT-Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research’s (NJIT-CSTR) Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) has captured the highest-ever spatial resolution images of Mercury crossing the Sun.  The planet Mercury crosses the disk of the Sun only rarely, when the orbits line up precisely.  The previous crossing, called a Mercury transit, was in 2006, before the NST was built.  The 1.6-m diameter NST telescope is the highest-resolution solar telescope in the world, so its images are the sharpest.  Prof. Dale Gary, Director of NJIT-CSTR’s Solar Observatories, teamed with scientists Kevin Reardon from the National Solar Observatory (NSO), and Jay Pasachoff from Williams College, to observe the transit from Big Bear.  Additional observations were taken at NSO's Dunn Solar Telescope.  The accompanying movie, compiled by Bin Chen (NJIT-CSTR) shows the Sun as viewed from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in extreme ultraviolet light from space, following Mercury as it crosses the Sun.  About midway through the transit, the Sun became visible at NST's location in California.  The fade-in to the NST images shows the more than ten-times better spatial resolution obtained with the optical telescope.  The clarity of the images was aided by the ability of the NST's adaptive optics system to lock onto the dark disk of Mercury, thus improving the corrections for turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere.  These observations would not have been possible without the expert operation of the telescope, instruments, and recording equipment by the BBSO staff.  Special thanks go to Claude Plymate, Kwangsu Ahn, John Varsik, Nicolas Gorceix, and Vasyl Yurchyshyn.  The music clip was added by Jie Zhang (George Mason University) and is available under a Creative Commons License.

http://web.njit.edu/~binchen/download/Mercury_Transit_2016/Mercury_Transit_2016_BBSO_SDO.mp4 <http://web.njit.edu/~binchen/download/Mercury_Transit_2016/Mercury_Transit_2016_BBSO_SDO.mp4>

Andrew J. Gerrard, Ph.D., Professor
Director; Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research
New Jersey Institute of Technology
323 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Newark, NJ 07102-1982
Office Phone:  973-596-5376
Office Fax:       973-596-3617
Email:  gerrard at njit.edu
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