Although school was not in session on Monday, the Astronomy Club took time to visit campus together to view the Mercury Transit. A “transit” is when a planet moves across the face of the Sun. In astronomical history, past transits have confirmed the distance from the Earth to the Sun (called an “Astronomical Unit”) and confirmed that there is no planet between Mercury and the Sun.
The club hosted three hours of viewing the transit in front of St. Joseph Hall, using the school’s two telescopes. Each telescope has a specially fitted filter for observing the Sun without eye damage. Over the three hours, as Mercury traveled across the face of the Sun, club members and guests observed and photographed this rare event. They also ate brunch and listened to a curated soundtrack (including, of course, “Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles).
The club’s next Observation Night, for viewing the stars, will precede the school play, “Letters to Sala,” on Saturday, Nov. 23. The next Mercury Transit will occur in 2032; the Astronomy Club has not yet made plans for that event.
- by William Farquhar, Astronomy Club Moderator and History Teacher