Yes, indeed I felt lucky to see the transit of mercury on November 11th. Black clouds full of heavy rain were in constant supply all morning. My PST telescope and drawing materials were in and out in the hope of a break in the weather. It was my intention to use the drawing to help explain the transit of Mercury, CHEOPS and Exoplanets.
As you can see from the drawing above (which is not rotated) I got my first view of the tiny planet at 12:51. I sketched one black dot on top of my previously drawn solar disc. Then the rain bucketed down like rods with a big wind attached. Next chance came at 13:33 a second black dot added to the effort. Then it rained cats and dogs till 14:26 when my final opportunity gave me a third mercury dot to add to the sketch. Most Irish observers had a similar story and images of this unique event. Therefore is was obviously frustrating to know it is happening but your chances of viewing are being limited by the weather.
After the last dot had been added to my sketch I had to drive up to Sligo in advance of Science Week workshops. I had hoped to get one more observation up there however black clouds over the Atlantic dashed that idea . Nevertheless, I had a sketch that would enhance my presentations to explain the transit of Mercury, CHEOPS and Exoplanets.
Our Sun and Other Stars Workshop Snippet
My workshop title is Our Sun and Other Stars, the audience were primary school children and their teachers in several venues.One of the subjects I talk about in the presentation is a new space telescope called CHEOPS. This instrument is due to launch on December 17th. Its job is to look at other stars that are known to have planets in orbit around them. This space telescope will determine the characteristics of these planets. CHEOPS will, in fact, be looking at lots of exoplanets transiting stars. It will measure those planets, check the out for thin atmospheres and make a list of exoplanets for future study.
CHEOPS is an European Space Agency Mission with a very targeted objective. For me it was great to have my little drawing to help children get the idea of a transit of a planet. At least Mercury is somewhat familiar and aided the small step to bring children the realisation that there are other planets with no names orbiting other suns. Wonderful drawings of CHEOPS were created at the workshops, equally important some featured exoplanets.
Irish children’s drawings onboard CHEOPS
Several years ago CHEOPS started a send your drawing to space campaign which I got involved in. Some children from my previous astronomy club St Cronans Stargazers drew line drawings of CHEOPS. It was a very specific kind of drawing on heavy paper, it had a lot of guidelines and rules to follow. All leading to the children’s drawings being shrunk by a factor of 1000 and etched onto titanium plates. These Irish drawings together with many others are now onboard CHEOPS awaiting launch hopefully before Christmas. You can see the original drawings in the slideshow below and you can also find them on this link, there are 8 from Wicklow they are my kid’s club drawings. Click here to see all the dawings onboard CHEOPS click on Ireland to see the drawings from Wicklow.