Planetary Transit Clarifications (2016)

Clarifications of the Planetary Transit Special Award – Mercury Transit 2016

I have received a number of questions about the Planetary Transit Special Award.  I hope these brief responses help answer some of them:

  • If you are interested in finding a partner observer at some distance from your location, let me know via email and I will try and do some matching. (
  • This is a photographic challenge and requires the use of a CCD, DSLR, or (for the brave among you) a cell phone camera.  The use of sketches is not acceptable because they do not produce sufficient precision.  Each participant must take photographs of the transit from their location and combine it with a photo taken at a distant location at the same time.   The only exception to this requirement is Option 3, as detailed below.
  • The equations necessary to calculate the AU will require simultaneous photos taken from distant points – think hundreds of miles apart (if not thousands), not just ten or twenty.
  • Upon successful completion of the Award, participants will receive a pin and certificate.  Note, however, that this Award does not count toward the  Master Observer Award or steps in the Master Observer Progression.  Participants must be AL members.
  • I have discovered several Internet sources that may be useful to you.  Check out the following:

The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers is encouraging its members to post time stamped photos of the Transit.

The National Solar Observatory posts daily solar images that include time stamps.

Several members have begun Facebook sites that you might be able to join.  Here is one example: – _=_

A good source of information on the Transit recently appeared in Cosmic Pursuits:

  • By way of review, you can complete the program in one of three ways:

Option 1.  You and a distant partner each take photos, make a composite, and separately complete the calculations and submit your individual results. 

Option 2.  You take a photo and create a composite from a photo you secure from the Internet (see above).  Do the calculations and submit your results.

Option 3.  You get clouded out or are in the wrong location and cannot take photos.  In this case, you may secure two photos from the Internet (see above) taken at distant locations.  Do the calculations and submit your results.

Clear Skies!


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