Guest Post: Mercury Rising

Mercury once again began transitting between the Earth and sun after dawn this morning. It appeared as a tiny silhouetted dot against the sun.

I was short on time so all I did was set up my “PST” (a 40mm aperture Personal Solar Telescope.) It has a narrowband hydrogen alpha filter which allows you to see prominences.

NASA Image: Satellites to See Mercury Enter Spotlight on May 9So I saw the tiny dot — a little bigger than I expected — about halfway across the face of the sun.

What was more interesting is that there were no prominences I could see, nor did I see much in the way of sunspots. Solar activity is the lowest today that I have ever seen. In point of fact, this is simply anecdotal reporting because I don’t regularly observe the sun, but I do have that PST and I do use it occasionally.

Maybe I should study the sun. One thing I am sure of (and there is data to back me up): Solar activity is down since the turn of the millenium.

Activity was quite high in the 90s. We saw aurorae as far south as Texas back then. And I sunburned like crazy in the ’90s and even 80’s. The current status is nothing like that. By the way, there also hasn’t been any significant global warming since solar activity slacked off.

Gee… could there be a connection?

–Bob Post

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Mercury Rising

  1. I have since seen a very nice photo of today’s transit taken by a friend using his fancy new camera. HE recorded a couple of minor sunspots and two small prominences that I didn’t see. The sky was hardly pristine at my location, and that might be the big difference. But the fact remains that solar activity is a LOT lower than it was 20 years ago…. and I think we should chase the data. Best place to start would probably be getting access to the SOHO orbiting solar observatory data at NASA.

    • Here’s a SOHO release with links to NASA’s SOHO website, heliophysics news, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, and NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, and the Hinode.

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