It was a clear predawn sky that greeted Waimea this morning, perfect to watch the transit of Mercury across the Sun.
An alarm set for o-dark-thirty and a drive to Waimea with the first glow of dawn behind the mauna. I did not have to pack a ‘scope as I would be using an observatory outreach telescope, just make sure I have camera gear ready.
Realistically I was expecting only a few folks in addition to the club members I knew were coming. A light crowd maybe? Thus I was rather surprised to find the parking lot filling quickly and our big conference room buzzing at 6am.
It was quite the crowd considering the Sun had not yet appeared over the shoulder of the mauna!
Since Mercury is quite small you will want a bit of magnification to view the event properly. If you do not have a good solar filter for your telescope come to a local event where telescopes are available.
On Hawaiʻi island you can either go to the W. M. Keck Observatory HQ in Waimea or Subaru Observatory HQ in Hilo. Both observatories are hosting transit events at dawn Monday morning 11 Nov, 2019.
These events start at 6am with webcasts of the transit from other observatories further east, with the Sun rising far enough to see the transit from 7-8am.
This particular transit will favor observers in Europe, South America, and the eastern seaboard of North America where the entire transit will be visible. Unfortunately for observers in the islands only the final hour and a half of the transit will be visible having begun well before local dawn. Sunrise will occur around 06:28 for the island of Hawaiʻi, with the transit ending at 08:04 in the morning when the Sun will be 20° above the horizon.
I needed a quiet day to work on some code in the Keck 2 dome control PLC. One problem, every time I load code the dome lights go out. Guys working in the dome tend to object to the lights going out randomly.
Answer? Go up on a weekend when there as only a couple guys on duty and not a lot of work going on. I can have the whole telescope and dome to myself most of the day.
This evening will feature a sunset total lunar eclipse visible across the islands. The eclipsed Moon will rise just as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon.
The eclipse will be just underway as the Moon rises on Hawaii island, with the Moon rising at almost exactly 18:00HST and the total phase of the eclipse starting 41 minutes later. Maximum will occur at 19:12HST with the Moon 14° above the horizon.
The next full Moon on January 20th, will feature a sunset total lunar eclipse visible across the islands. The eclipsed Moon will rise just as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon.
The eclipse will be just underway as the Moon rises on the island of Hawaii, with the Moon rising at almost exactly 18:00HST and the total phase of the eclipse starting 41 minutes later. Maximum will occur at 19:12HST with the Moon 14° above the horizon.
Many references state that the eclipse will occur on January 21st, and it will, in time zones further east than us here in Hawaii. We are ten hours behind UT, thus it will be the evening of the 20th when the eclipse occurs in the islands.
An easy to view evening eclipse, no reason not to get out and view this one, no need for an alarm clock!