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From: TerryMosel@aol.com
Date: Wed, 7 May 2003 16:46:52 EDT
Subject: Mercury mastered!

Hi all,

Somebody up there loves me - 3 out of 3 Mercury transits so far! Can my luck 
hold for Venus on June 8 next year?

Mixed tales from around Ireland, it seems - S & W were unlucky, Dublin & the 
North were at least partly clear.

Clouds cleared from Glengormley just in time to see that Mercury had already 
entered on the disc, even thru thin cloud. This then cleared and I got some 
great views thru the little 70mm Lidl refractor + Baader solar filter ( my 
150mm refractor was packed in the car ready for Phase 2!).

A quick breakfast, then into the car & at 8 a.m. I arrived at the City Hall, 
parked beside the Lord Mayor's limo (OJ), and set up the 70mm refractor with 
filter, plus my 150mm refractor & projection screen, in the grounds in front 
of the CH. By this time the sky was almost totally clear, and there were 
great views for the next 3 hours! As well as the big central spot, there was 
another smaller one nearby, and a nice group, complete with faculae, near the 
limb. Just beside these was another patch of faculae, with what looked like 
the birth of a new spot group - I could see a tiny black pore. The big spot 
was interesting - markedly oval, but symmetrical, and a very symmetrical 
penumbra around it.

But back to Mercury.... A BBC camera crew arrived, took some shots of the 
projected image which came out very well (I used the 150mm at full 
aperture!), and did an interview which was shown on the BBC lunchtime TV 
news! Followed by a short plug for Mars later in the year....

Anyway, we followed Mercury past greatest transit, and it was only at about 
11.00 that some clouds developed, and we lost it intermittently from then on. 
At 11.25 It looked as if the clouds had beaten us for egress, but never say 
die - they parted enough for a glimpse of the latter stages of egress! We 
missed third contact, but saw the disc of Mercury about bisected by the 
imaginary limb at about 11.30, and we could no longer see any sign of Mercury 
by 11.31.40. However, that was a view thru drifting patchy cloud, so I 
wouldn't take that as an actual timing of 4th contact!

I rang Patrick Moore to see how he was faring, and am glad to report that at 
last he was lucky, getting his first ever view of a transit of Mercury!

So roll on Venus on 8 June 2004!

If you have any good photos of the event we would be glad to have them for 
our IAA website - send them to John hall at Jimmyaquarius@btinternet.com. I 
would also be glad of any reports, photos, anecdotes etc for STARDUST. 

BTW, Dr Alan Fitzsimmons of QUB has put an image from QUB on the web page at
QUB.

Thanks to IAA members Taff James, Danny Collins, David Collins, & Peter 
Millar for helping out, particularly Taff who helped me carry all the gear 
back to the car!

Good luck for the total lunar eclipse on May 15/16 - more on that later.

Terry Moseley

Last Revised: 2003 May 8th
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