Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2016 May 13
Explanation: Transits of Mercury are relatively rare. Monday's leisurely 7.5 hour long event was only the 2nd of 14 Mercury transits in the 21st century. If you're willing to travel, transits of the International Space Station can be more frequent though, and much quicker. This sharp video frame composite was taken from a well-chosen location in Philadelphia, USA. It follows the space station, moving from upper right to lower left, as it crossed the Sun's disk in 0.6 seconds. Mercury too is included as the small, round, almost stationary silhouette just below centre. In apparent size, the International Space Station looms larger from low Earth orbit, about 450 kilometres from Philadelphia. Mercury was about 84 million kilometres away. (Editor's note: The stunning video includes another double transit, Mercury and a Pilatus PC12 aircraft. Even quicker than the ISS to cross the Sun, the aircraft was about 1 kilometre away.)
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.