On May 9th 2016 a Mercury Transit occurred, and at Space Robotics, we had to do something about it. To help those with access to a telescope enjoy it, and to approach it to anyone else, we built the 2016 Mercury Transit App.
About the Mercury Transit
A transit is a phenomenon during which one astronomical object passes directly between a larger body and the observer. Hence, a Mercury transit seen from Earth is an astronomical event during which Mercury crosses the Sun. Clearly, this is only possible if these three bodies align. But Mercury’s orbit is tilted when compared to Earth’s, so Mercury transits are usually not possible because the Sun, the Earth and Mercury aren’t usually in the same plane, thus, it is impossible for them to be aligned. Only during brief periods of Earth’s and Mercury’s orbit, these planes come together, and only then, there’s a chance for a transit to be seen. A planetary transit is definitely something extraordinary, and when something like this happens, we might as well enjoy it. To help those with access to a telescope enjoy it, and to approach it to anyone else, we have built the 2016 Mercury Transit App.
About the App
This easy-to-use app weighs less than 1Mb and may be downloaded for free at the PlayStore. Once started, the app lets you change between four life channels:
- The Sun as seen by ESA’s SOHO (SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory). SOHO is a space-based observatory that since 1995 has been viewing and investigating the Sun from its deep core, through its outer atmosphere, out to a distance ten times beyond the Earth’s orbit. This channel is updated each time a new image arrives to the SOHO on-line database, and it allows users to see in multiple wavelengths what is going on in the Sun before, during and after the transit.
- The Sun as seen from Spain. Thanks to ESA’s CESAR project, ESAC at Madrid has a Solar Observatory full-time dedicated to education. Images taken by this observatory are available online and are usually updated every minute. Through this channel, users may check how is the transit seen from Spain.
- The Sun as seen from Chile. This channel was directly connected with the Great Solar Observatory of Chile. Which was constantly uploading life images from the transit. This is the App’s main resource, it approached the eclipse to hundreds of persons that were whiling to see it.
- CESAR streaming. Last but not least, the CESAR streaming channel was connected to CESAR’s room at ESAC, where a transit-related conference was taking place before, during and after the transit. Trough this channel users could learn new interesting facts about the Sun and Mercury while waiting for the transit to come.
Images © Nubalo Studios