Category : Planets

Mercury and Venus Transit Dates

Since purchasing a Solar filter and mask, together with a lot of information about Mercury being recently published, I wanted to know when the next transits of the Sun occur, so I can view them. Well it turns out the first one is not until 2012.

As seen from Earth, only transits of the inner planets Mercury and Venus are possible. Planetary transits are far more rare than eclipses of the Sun by the Moon. On the average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century.

So for reference here are the dates for the next transits of Mercury and Venus:

Transits of Mercury Dates

Date Universal Time Separation* (Sun and Mercury)

2016 May 09



2019 Nov 11



2032 Nov 13



2039 Nov 07



2049 May 07



 * distance (arc-seconds) between the centers of the Sun and Mercury

Transits of Venus Dates

Date Universal Time Separation* (Sun and Venus)

2012 Jun 06



2117 Dec 11



2125 Dec 08



2247 Jun 11



First Saturn via Web Cam

I was looking forward to this time of year and having Saturn back in view.  I started my astronomy hobby in May, and at that point I did get some views of Saturn through my Bresser 130N telescope, but was not really able to image it with a manual scope.

The evening was not great for seeing and I did image Saturn too early on in the evening, when it was low in the sky, which then gives you atmospheric turbulence.

The images were taken using the Philips SPC900 web cam, I can’t remember the exact webcam settings, but it worked out I took nearly 2,000 frames or more to put into Registax 4.

Second attempt at Saturn with SPC900 webcam First Saturn image with SPC900 webcam, low in the sky.

Although the images are not award winners, not too bad for my first real images of Saturn, hopefully these will get better throughout the year and even better when I get used to imaging with the Meade DSI.

Imaging Mars with a Webcam 3rd Attempt

I decided to brave the cold last night and go out at about 10.30pm. I did not find it that cold, although this time I did wear a ninja type balaclava. After setting up, I wondered why I had even bothered coming out as a kind of icy fog then appeared.

I recently purchased a 2″ ED Barlow and wanted to give that a go to try and capture a larger Mars. I did have problems though get Mars on the computer screen via the webcam when using the Barlow. I usually start by getting Mars in the centre of the eyepiece and then I sync the LX200. I then swap the eyepiece for the webcam. I then re-focus and play with the webcam settings and then record.

If I am using a Barlow on top I then add the Barlow, but last night everytime I added the Barlow I lost Mars on the computer screen – very frustrating!

Mars on a cold night in December 2007I wonder if the webcam went to sleep or just gave up, so I tried unplugging the webcam and shutting down VLounge as well. I tried several times then got annoyed and just took some footage without the Barlow lens.

What are the best procedures to follow to get webcam footage when using Barlows? Do I need another piece of equipment to see what is going on at the telescope at the same time as what the webcam can see?

I think the other problem was that the Barlow is 2″ and my eyepieces are 1.25″ and so is the webcam so I kept taking the Barlow out and then I had to add the adaptor back into the telescope to just use a 1.25″ eyepiece.

The Barlow does have a 1.25″ adaptor, I did try to align Mars in the eyepiece when using the Barlow and then swapped the eyepiece for the Webcam, but there was no Mars on the computer screen.

Ho Hum – try again next time, probably when the outside temp is not -2.

Imaging Mars with a Webcam, 2nd Attempt

This was my 2nd attempt at imaging Mars with my Philips SPC900 Webcam. This time I decided to go out a bit later, so headed out at around 10.30pm and started imaging at 11pm. Leaving it later in the evening meant that Mars was in Gemini and quite high in the sky, so hopefully the atmosphere would not affect my imaging so much.

This time I made sure that VLounge software was recording at 10fps, I also played around a lot more with the setttings.

Both images are the same, just at different resolutions and magnifications.

Mars via Webcam 3rd Dec 2007 Mars via Webcam 3rd Dec 2007

This image was stacked in Registax 4 and the clip length was around 2 minutes. I originally took the clip at 10fps, but now I have looked back at the .avi, it says the fps is 24, this may be because I had to convert the original .mpg clip into an .avi

I did not use a Barlow, so it was taken at f10, I did try to use a 4x ImageMate, but this was just too powerful, so I stuck to just using the webcam with the UV/IR filter.

I am a lot happier with these images, and I am learning a lot doing this. I think the next step is to try and fill more of the CCD chip with the red planet. This means getting hold of a good quality 2x Barlow lens.

Webcam Imaging Mars

As Mars is very prominent in the sky at the moment, I feel it is my mission to try and get the best possible image I can whilst I have the red planet in sight.

I purchased a new Baader UV/IR lens the other day so I was really itching to give it a go. I used my Philips SPC900 web-cam, and I took around 100 seconds of video each time at 10 frames per second and 15 frames per second, in order to get lots of frames to put into Registax.

I still do all my recording in the supplied Philips VLounge software, although I don’t think this is the best way to go about it, one reason is because the output format is .MPG and I have to then convert it to .AVI to get it into Registax, which is a real pain.

Mars via Webcam

See my second attempt for better Mars images. I have learnt a lot since this post.

You can make out some terrain marks of Mars in the image, but I want more! I still think I can get a better image, as this footage is a bit fuzzy and kind of out of focus. The video was taken when Mars was quite low in the sky. As at the moment I just can’t stay out too late as it’s so cold outside by the time Mars is high in the sky, but hopefully during December and January I should be able to get some more imaging done. I am also reading The Lunar and Planetary Webcam User’s Guide book, so hopefully I should pick up some more tips from this book.

1 2 3