The Inner Planets in Transit

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The Inner Planets in Transit



The Inner Planets in Transit


Simultaneous transits of Mercury and Venus cannot occur now, though they can come close (in 1631, a transit of Venus on December 7 occured just one month after a transit of Mercury).

The orbits of Mercury, Venus and the Earth change over time, and double events become possible tens of thousands of years in the future as the longitudes of their nodes converge.

Transits of Mercury and Venus occur only a few hours apart on September 17, 13425. The first double transit of Venus and Mercury will occur on July 26, 69163, and the next on March 27, 224508 (J. Meeus & A. Vitagliano, "Simultaneous Transits," Journal of the British Astronomical Association, v114,3,2004, pp132-135. Link). Think of these photographs not as fantasies but as precreations of events hundreds of centuries away (the positions of the planets on the solar disk is not exact, or even approximate; the relative sizes of the Sun, Venus, and Mercury are exactly right).

The composite image is based on photographs made under remarkably similar circumstances in 2004 and 2006. Here are the individual photos:



Transit of Mercury
November 8, 2006


Transit of Venus
June 8, 2004


I photographed Mercury in transit using a Canon 20D and a 3.5-inch Questar. For the transit of Venus, I used a Nikon D100 and a 5-inch F6 Astro-Physics refractor.

Venus, almost three times larger than Mercury, was more than two and half times closer to the Earth. I matched the scale of the Sun in the best photographs I had of the two events and composited them to emphasize the perspective from planet Earth of the inner solar system. The result shows a double transit of the inner planets.

All photos ©2006, David Cortner, all rights reserved.

Email: David Cortner



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