NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s time-lapse view of the Mercury transit

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / SDO Press Release

Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein.
Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein.
On 9 May 2016, Mercury passed directly between the Sun and Earth. This event, which is called a transit, happens about 13 times each century. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is a satellite in an inclined geosynchronous orbit about the Earth that studies the Sun 24/7 and captured the entire seven-and-a-half-hour event. This composite image of Mercury’s journey across the Sun above was created with visible-light images from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on SDO.

While watching the following time-lapse video, bear in mind that Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system with a diameter of 3030 miles (4880 kilometres), just 38 percent the size of the Earth. The Sun has a diameter of 864,600 miles (1,391,400 kilometres) — in excess of 285 times the diameter of Mercury.

If you have a fast internet connection and a large monitor, we recommend viewing the following video full-screen at 1080p HD quality to get the maximum effect. Enjoy!

Did you observe the transit or photograph it? If so, please tell us about your experience.