Beginning amateur astronomers soon encounter the term “Messier objects.” They learn that this is a list of objects outside our Solar System that are visible through small telescopes. This list was originally compiled by Charles Messier, in the 18th century, from his observations and those of contributors. The catalog has been updated over time, as recently as the mid-20th century, to 110 objects in total.
The premier event of 2019 awaits the end of the year when Mercury appears to pass over the face of the sun (as seen from Earth) on November 11thfrom 12:35 to 18:04 UT. Due to its diminutive size — only 10-arc-seconds in diameter — eclipse glasses over your eyes will not do: you’ll need a properly solar filtered telescope, binocular, or telephoto lens to view it (see Viewing/Imaging Resources at bottom). Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t be until 2032.
Imaging a rare celestial event requires advanced planning, the right equipment, and often a lot of post-processing. Tony Cook traveled from the UK to Paphos on the southwest of coast of Cyprus (we suppose for the over 300 sunny days a year) to image the 2004 Transit of Venus with his Tele Vue-85, Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter, Canon 10D camera, and Losmandy GM-8 mount. The 85’s optical capabilities and airline portability often makes it a favorite for amateur astronomers chasing down rare events like this.
First, some bad-news for all those newly confirmed “eclipse chasers” from the Great American Eclipse in 2017: there will be no total solar or annular eclipses this year — just some partials.
Southern hemisphere observers will get a double-dose of partial eclipses starting February 15th. That event will cover an area from the southern part of South America to a large chunk of Antarctica. This will be followed by another partial event July 13th — mostly observable in the waters between Antarctica and Australia — with the shadow making landfall in the southern parts of Victoria and South Australia.
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