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MAY 7, 2003

On May 7th, roughly between 5:11 UT and 10:32 UT, a Mercury transit happened. Mercury crossed the sun's disc. Astronet and Copernicus Public Observatory in cooperation with the Dutch educational website Kennislink ("Knowledge Link") organised a live webcast of the event from the Netherlands.

The Mercury transit was very well observed from many countries. On this page we will display the nicest images and movies.

Mira Public Observatory at Grimsbergen, Belgium captured the last contact.

More images by Mira Public Observatory.

Copernicus Public Observatory in the Netherlands bid farewell and as see you during the Venus transit of June 8, 2004:

Professor Rob Rutten, of the Sterrekundig Instituut Utrecht & Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics Oslo kindly communicated this picture taken with the Dutch Open Telescope (DOT) at the Observatorio del Rogue de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma. The image displays Mercury at high angular resolution with the solar chromosphere in the background. The image is taken in the Ca II H resonance line of once-ionized calcium. Seen in the light of these particles, the solar atmosphere is sampled a few hundred kilometer above the surface seen in white light. This layer is called the chromosphere (but it is not blue, the color below is fake; actually the chromosphere is purple (Halpha + Hbeta) seen in eclipse at contact and in prominences, hebce the origin of the name). It shows a vivid, fast-changing scene in which the bright patches mark strong magnetic fields and the mottled filamentary structures elsewhere are a combination of waves and brightness-reversed solar granulation.


The Swedisch 1-m Solar Telescope (SST) of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on the Canary Islands captured these stunning pictures during the last contact:

10:27:26 UT 10:30:11 UT 10:30:24 UT 10:33:04 UT


SOHO, a NASA/ESA solar research satellite in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point L1 at 1.5 million km from the Earth in the direction of the Sun, made an mpeg-movie with its Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI). Since SOHO was slightly "ahead" of Earth in its halo orbit, Mercury's shadow caught up with SOHO a little later than with observers on Earth. The transit started at 7:50 UT and ended at 13:17 UT. SOHO made a very nice mpeg-movie.

Mpeg-movie with SOHO's
Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI)

Image taken with SOHO's
Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT)

Astronet is receiving very nice images from all over the world. One of the nicest and sharpest images we saw so far is this composite picture by D. Dierick from Ghent, Belgium:

Images taken with a 155 mm EDFS Starfire
refractor and a Nikon D100 digital camera.

Enrico Perissinotto from Talmassons, Friuli (North Italy). made this stunning mosaic. He used an Astro-Physics 130 EDFS at f12, prism of Hershel Baader and filter ND 4, Web Cam Philips ToUcam Pro.

Enrico Perissinotto

Enrico Perissinotto's results can also be admired at his Galleria Foto page.

The Mercury transit has also been recorded by Henk Masselink and Henk Bril, with assistance of Marion Iris van der Linden, using a Philips ToUCam PRO camera (webcam) that was attached with a adapter, constructed by Herman ten Haaf, in the primary focus of a 8”Celestron C8 Schmidt Cassegrain telescope fitted with a Mylar solarscreen filter.

The images werd recorded on a notebook PC (Celeron 1100 MHz processor with 128 Mb internal memory) through the USB-port with the standard software of the ToUCam PRO (VRecord) as AVI-file. A movie with a duration of 15 seconds makes a file of ca. 90 Mbyte with the chosen resolution of 640x480 and 15 images/second. For the editing all movies were transformed to bmp-files using the AVI2BMP software. The BMP’s werd stacked and edited using ASTROSTACK2. In this process 15 images were stacked to one image. A number of images were eventually transformed back to AVI (and MPEG) using Pinnacle Studio 8 SE. An overall acceleration of a factor 5 was obtained because each image was frozen for 0.2 seconds.

With his webcam images Henk Bril was able to determine acurate times of contact for his observing place (N 51º02’14”; E 5º52’08”; +35 m):

T3: UT 10h28m21s ± 2s
T4: UT 10h32m26s ± 4s

Astronet further received the following images of the Mercury transit.

Wylliam Robinson

Tim Kraayvanger

Marco Verstraaten

Johannes Schedler

Johannes Schedler

Astronet welcomes more images to be included in this special page!


  • ESO: Mercury Transit on May 7, 2003 - Central display and webcam
  • France: L'Observatoire de Paris
  • Germany: Baader Planetarium
  • Germany: Sternwarte Peterberg
  • France: Association NOVAE, l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Nice
  • Belgium: Mira Public Observatory, Grimbergen
  • Belgium: D. Dierick, Ghent
  • Canary Isles: SAROS
  • Canary Islands: Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope (SST)
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong Astronomical Society
  • Japan: Live Universe
  • India: Nehru Planetarium
  • England: Worth Hill Observatory
  • Spain: Planetario de Madrid
  • Spain: Universitat de Barcelona
  • Spain: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Greece: Perseus
  • Denmark: Astronomisk Forening for Køge Bugt
  • Australia, India, Canary Islands: NSO/GONG
  • Austria: Sonnenobservatorium Kanzelhöhe
  • Austria: Verein Kuffner-Sternwarte (Wien)
  • Dubai: Zayed University
  • Italy: Osservatorio di Catania
  • Germany: Michaela Brossmann / Michael Timofti


  • Project 6: The Transit of Mercury on May 7th, 2003
  • Fred Espenak: 2003 Transit of Mercury
  • Planetary Transits across the Sun
  • SOHO -- Exploring the Sun
  • ESA: Mercury shows its dark side
  • ESO: Mercury Transit on May 7, 2003... Prelude to the Venus Transit 2004!
  • Transit of Mercury, May 7. 2003
  • Sky&Telescope: Mercury Transits the Sun
  • Current solar images
  • TRACE - Mercury transit 2003
  • Kennislink: Een stipje voor de zon (Dutch)

    Animation of Mercury's transit.
    Illustration: M. Federspiel / courtesy Prof.Dr. Udo Backhaus
    (Project 6: The Transit of Mercury on May 7th, 2003)