back to article Astroboffins capture video of Mercury passing across the Sun's surface

Mercury, the smallest planet in our Solar System, appeared as a tiny black dot on Monday as it crossed the Sun’s surface in between the Earth and its star. Images captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) show a stark silhouette of a spherical object floating across the bright orange backdrop of the Sun. The …

  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    22nd century kiddies terrified by theregister cobweb

    "[...] won’t be seen again until December 2117, so if you're reading this you've missed your last chance to see it"

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: 22nd century kiddies terrified by theregister cobweb

      Well, if you are reading this in 2117 then I hope you eventually managed to get OSX Catalina to work properly.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 22nd century kiddies terrified by theregister cobweb

        ...or Windows. Any version.

    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: 22nd century kiddies terrified by theregister cobweb

      Presuming, of course, that everyone stays on earth or near its orbit for all that time.

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    The same thing through the SWAB view point .....

  3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Not gonna happen again before 2032

    Well, only from the Earth's perspective. That aside, the timelapse is spectacular! Science!

  4. Symon Silver badge

    Transit of Venus 1639.

    This was how astronomers Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend William Crabtree measured the size of the solar system.

    Very clever indeed!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Transit of Venus 1639.

      At a time when the church was encouraging us to happily burn witches, there were some very clever people around who really could think outside the box and realise there was more to the universe than others would like them to believe.....

      I'm always amazed at how much knowledge could be shared between these visionaries/scholars in different countries long before there was a recognised postal service, let alone jet planes, international conferences and the interweb.... If only they could see where we are now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Transit of Venus 1639.

        If only they could see where we are now.

        On the other hand, said visionaries might find it slightly depressing that we still have flat-earthers...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Transit of Venus 1639.

        "If only they could see where we are now."

        Twitter, Facebook, Instagram?

      3. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Transit of Venus 1639.

        They would think Twitter is the spawn of Satan.

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    2032 - another reason for staying alive.

    That, and then possibly a bumper Leonids in 2033 which is also the year my drunken decision not to take a lump sum on my pension makes sense.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: 2032 - another reason for staying alive.

      So it's nice to know the dates in 2033 when it'll be cloudy all across Southern England then...

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: 2032 - another reason for staying alive.

        I've read stuff that says 2033 and 2066 arent going to be storms. Not found out why but hope its not true. And I'm off somewhere nice to watch it. Saw a cracker in Cuba one year.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's Mr Real to tell us that this is all faked and the planets are painted on a big dome over the earth?

  7. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Why is the FullScreen option switched off on YouTube vids shown in ElReg articles? Seems to be a self defeating option to have set to me as I just hit the YouTube link instead and watch it there.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: FullScreen

      "Seems to be a self defeating option to have set to me as I just hit the YouTube link instead and watch it there."

      You just answered your own question there.

  8. Giles C Silver badge

    Xkcd warning


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kind of humbling

    That tiny black dot is almost 5000 km across. Against the backdrop of that star which doesn't fit on the screen, we are nothing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kind of humbling

      My thoughts too. That sun thing is big. Really really big. Yet it is totally insignificant in terms of the galaxy never mind the universe.

      We humans are so, so insignificant......

      1. Geoff May (no relation)

        Re: Kind of humbling

        Who nicked the fairy cake?

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Kind of humbling

        It's fairly insignificant compared to other stars

        I don't know if the term dwarf is now offensive to stars so ours is possibly just mass-challenged

  10. abubasim

    In Danny Boyle's Sunshine from 2007, one of my favourite sci-fi films, there is a scene where they get to experience Mercury's passing in front of the sun, not across its surface as this article suggests, without using a telescope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The whole film was spoiled for me by the preposterous notion that we could have any affect at all on the Sun.

      At. All.

      1. Steve Aubrey

        Re: @abubasim

        Affect/effect. Pedant.

  11. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    I feel the need to look the other way...

    And to 2001:A space odyssey.

    Jupiter and beyond the infinite. Pt. 1.

    Seems suitably apt music for that transition.

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Who needs a satellite?

    I had both hydrogen alpha and white light solar telescopes out at work and encouraged 150 or more kids (and some teachers) to see the transit (between the clouds). The response was either "Ah!" and "Oh!" or "Ah." and "Oh." at the view of a small black dot on a big bright disk :-)

    The News at Ten report last night was amazingly bland ... they didn't even pick up that in Britain something astronomical was happening and we weren't totally clouded out!

    At least if I managed to inspire one of those kids I probably did my job.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Who needs a satellite?

      Yeah, well I projected the transit of Venus onto a screen and my daughter ran around saying I was a genius. So there.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Who needs a satellite?

        It's amazing how clever, condescending and manipulating a 5yo can be :-)))))

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I liked the red one!

    This is not blank - although it might as well be.

  14. caffeine addict

    I assume it happens so irregularly due to some quirk of our respective orbital angles? (is that obliquity of the ecliptic? I never can remember my Vangelis...)

    1. Simon Harris

      I thought it was more of a daily occurrence.

      "There's a little black spot on the sun today,

      It's the same old thing as yesterday."

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      It has to happen when Mercury crosses the ecliptic, which is the plane of Earth's orbit. Mercury's orbit is inclined at 7 degrees to the ecliptic and the apparent diameter of the Sun from Earth is 0.5 degrees, so the alignment doesn't happen easily. Also the Earth has to be in the right place in its orbit, which is a space about the diameter of the Sun across: 800,000 miles: that's about a 15 hour window.

  15. Aladdin Sane

    Set the controls

    for the heart of the sun.

  16. Symon Silver badge

    If you're waiting for Mercury and Venus to transit together...

    ...come back in AD 69,163.

  17. fishman


    The University of Maryland Astronomy Department had a couple of telescopes set up (with solar filters) on main campus for public viewing of the transit yesterday. We went to it, and even though it was around noontime and there were only two telescopes, there was no line.........

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Alas, our outreach event was clouded out

    We still kept going, showing people live streams from Slooh, and playing my (very quick and dirty, and somewhat irregularly sampled) time lapse of the 2016 transit in a loop (on youtube right here). They also liked seeing the telescopes, and taking a tour of the observatory. I did manage to take some shots of the transit of Venus in 2004 on film. After scanning the results, I even managed a little time lapse shown here. The 2012 transit was clouded out.

  19. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Earth does transits too!

    You just have to be on Mars to see it...

    1. Symon Silver badge

      Re: Earth does transits too!

      As does the Moon!

      "During the event, the Moon could almost always also be seen in transit, although due to the distance between Earth and Moon, sometimes one body completes the transit before the other begins (this last occurred in the 1800 transit, and will happen again in 2394). "

      Also the Curiosity rover saw a transit of Mercury from Mars.

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