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I watched the Mercury transit today. What did you do?

The beauty of studying at a world-class university such as Lund can be seen in so many things. I am sure that by now, you, as our readers (love you, people) know of some beautiful aspects of studying here and in Sweden in general.

One such beautiful thing I got to experience was an opportunity to see the Mercury transit today. An occurrence quite rarely seen over the course of a century: just 13 times. But it’s not always visible from Sweden all 13 times per century.

So this is where I went today:

So, the next Mercury transits are 11 November 2019 and 13 November 2032. Since weather in Sweden in the winter months is far from favourable, it’s safe to say that Sweden will likely not witness the Mercury transits in 2019 and 2032. This is also due to the Sun being very low in the sky in November – which puts atmospheric turbulences in the way of a nice observation. Or so I’ve been told today.

The next Mercury transit that Sweden might be able to witness is in May 2049. 

Since I don’t plan to wait until 2049, and I’m a bit of a space enthusiast, this was naturally something I couldn’t miss.

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The viewing event was composed of three short lectures to make the attendees aware of planet and star proportions, of why this transit is so rare and overall safety precautions (do NOT look directly at the sun people!). The lecturers were witty and they adjusted the lectures to the level of the general public – I mean, the professor used a carefully measured orange to accurately represent the sun. So yeah, it was quite simple to understand.

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Once the lecturers led us into the matter and what to expect to see, we went out to check out the telescope and see the real deal!

And, in true Swedish fashion, there was a perfectly patient queue:

 

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All to be able to spend a minute with this:

The teaching telescope

The teaching telescope

If you want to see a piece of it, NASA posted a cool video of it today:

It was quite a cool event, I have to say. The organisers were very patient with all the [probably basic] questions they got from people and it seemed to me that they were genuinely happy to share their knowledge with us. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be on Lund University’s campus at this time. You learn something new every day. 🙂

 

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