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MicroObservatory's Transit of Mercury Challenge


On May 9th, 2016, the Western Hemisphere observed Mercury transit across the Sun.



This coming November 11th, 2019, Mercury will again pass in front of the Sun. Prepare yourself to follow along and track the transit using MicroObservatory telescope images.


Start Guided Tour




Guided Tour


In this guided tour we’ll take you through the steps of using our JS9-4L image processing tool with data from the 2016 transit.

If you're familiar with animating images in JS9-4L, you can click the × in the upper right corner. You can always come back to this tour by clicking "Replay Guided Tour".


Next

Select an Image

First, click on one of the image files of the Sun. It will open inside the JS9-4L frame.

After you've finished the guided tour, all of the images that you need for this challenge are available here, under the Transit of Mercury tab.

Next

Adjust the Scale

Use these scales to highlight different regions of relative brightness in your image. Log scale works best for dim images.

Switch between the scales to see how regions that appear black suddenly reveal much greater detail.

Next

Adjust the Brightness Limits



Hover over the darkest parts of your image. Watch the green number inside the parenthesis next to "Pixel Value" above. Type the lowest value you see into the Low Brightness Limit box.


Next

Special Tools for Animating Images

In order to line up all of your sun images and animate through them, you will need to use the Shift, Blinking, and Blending tools. You can find these tools under the 'Tools' dropdown.

Watch this video tutorial to learn how to use these three tools:

Next

Adjust the Color


Choose from this list of colormaps to either
add beauty to your image, or highlight the
relative brightness of different regions in your image.

You can also make real-color images with
RGB mode, but you ought to watch a tutorial
on creating RGB images first.

Next




Save Your Images and Create a GIF

When you're done, save all your images to your computer or device. Go to a third-party website like gifmaker.me, upload your images, set the animation rate, and download an animated GIF of your Transit of Mercury.

Post your GIF to our Facebook, or post it to Twitter and mention us (@microobs). We can't wait to see what you make!

Next

Close the Tutorial Image

Now that you've practiced using JS9-4L, close any images that you opened during this Guided Tour so you can start from scratch. Just click the × next to any image files that are currently open.

Remember: you can reopen images for this challenge under the 'Transit of Mercury' tab.

Next




Explore More

If you would like more detailed help, the button on the left will take you to a video tutorial on processing images.

You can also request your own images of the Transit of Mercury (and other objects) using MicroObservatory telescopes. Just follow the button on the right.

Next




Participate Live!

If you’d like to create a GIF of the 2019 Transit of Mercury on or after November 11th. We’ll be uploading the data from the event live for you to follow along. Select the Object: SunMerc


Finish Guided Tour

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5 Ways to Find an Exoplanet: The Transit Method


This virtual model examines how scientists have used the Transit Method to detect over 3,000 exoplanets as they pass in front of their host stars. Explore the other 4 methods that have led to the discovery of over 900 others too!

Sun Screen: A ‘Pi in the Sky’ Math Challenge


This math challenge invites learners to take part in recent celestial discoveries, by using the mathematical constant pi to find out how much solar energy is lost on Earth when Mercury transits the Sun.

ExoLab: Exoplanets Modeling Lab


With this interactive, you can develop a model of an exoplanet orbiting its star in order to predict and interpret the signal of an exoplanet. What happens when the planet is different sizes, or orbits at different speeds?


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