Last week, the planet Mercury put on a show for astronomers by trekking across the Sun for 7.5 hours. In what is known as a Mercury transit, the tiny planet passed between the Sun and Earth, appearing as a tiny black dot moving slowly across the Sun's bright disc. It's an event that happens only about 13 times a century, so astronomers were out in full force with specialized telescopes to observe the transit.
Perhaps the best footage of Mercury's passing was captured by the Big Bear Solar Observatory, located in the San Bernardino Mountains in California. The observatory's New Solar Telescope (NST) is the "highest-resolution solar telescope in the world," according to the BBSO, so it was able to provide the sharpest view yet of a Mercury transit. A new video released by the observatory combines the NST's footage with video captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Halfway through the video, it transitions from NASA's footage to the BBSO's footage, showing the higher resolution that the observatory's telescope can take.
This high-resolution video shows Mercury's transit in unprecedented detail — perhaps a little too much detail. Upon closer examination of the NST's footage, we noticed a few weird things about the planet during its transit. Take a look at what we discovered below:
It's the planetary transit we deserve, but not the one that we need right now.
Mercury Power, Make-up!
Freddie Mercury burning through the sky — that's why they call him Mr. Fahrenheit.