09 December 2023 - Mission Day: 10235 - DOY: 343
Pick of The Week

Transit of Mercury 2003 (May 7, 2003)

  • Hi-res TIF image (1.8M)

  • Movies: C2 Quicktime large (2.5M) and small (248K) version.

  • The planet Mercury crossed in front of the Sun in less than six hours on May 7, 2003, and we have the movies and images from SOHO to show it! The first image shows Mercury as a tiny dot approaching the Sun on May3 from the left. Then, in the movie on May 7 this little dot of Mercury (1/160 of the Sun's diameter) appears as a tiny sunspot moving across the surface of the Sun, so it was difficult to see from Earth without a telescope. And because Mercury's orbit does take it between the Earth and the Sun once every 13 or so years, on average, this event is not totally rare. It does give us a very good visual sense of the mammoth size of the Sun.

    The SOHO spacecraft had an unimpeded view from where it orbits between the Sun and Earth, one million miles towards the Sun. Scientists consider this transit a kind of trial run or prelude to the much grander Transit of Venus next June 8, 2004, although SOHO itself will not be in a position to see it cross the Sun.

    Previous Picks of the Week

    SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.

    If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to steele.hill@gsfc.nasa.gov.


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