Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Remembering the 2019 Mercury Transit of the Sun

This one was easier for me - I was able to walk out and down the driveway to get clear of trees, set up my Meade PST and see and photograph the Mercury transit of the Sun.
Mercury transit of the Sun - Santa Rosa - November 11, 2019 8:04am PST
(Mercury is the small dot almost centered over the Sun)

Remembering the 2012 Venus Transit

Was traveling to LA at the time and remember heading home from downtown on I-5 into terrible traffic and stressing out that I would miss the last Venus trust of my lifetime.  Fortunately we arrived just as Venus was centered across the Sun and I was able to pull-in, hop out and take this photo.

Venus Transit of the Sun in 2012
Venus transit of the Sun - Los Angeles - June 5, 2012 4:24 PM PDT

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Great American Eclipse


Progression mosaic ~3 hours

We were able to take in the Eclipse from Rexburg, Idaho.  We had clear skies and a horizon - to horizon view!  Just after totality started, it got quite cold - I was wearing shorts and flip-flops (it was about 75 deg.) and I started shivering!  We also looked at the eclipse at about 3/4 completed in the trees nearby.  The gaps in the leaves act like thousands of pinhole cameras and project the eclipse down on the ground - you see hundreds of "crescent suns" all around you.

As one can imagine all the campgrounds were full long ago.  So were the hotels.  I ruled out a hotel because if there are clouds there you are kind of stuck.  An RV on the other hand lets you roam from state-to-state to find the best conditions.  That's why our initial destination was Jackson WY, we ended up in Rexburg, ID.

The Gear:

  • One 8" Meade SCT with a Pentax SLR
  • One Coronado Personal Solar Telescope (PST) 7 an iPhone SE
  • One Pentax SLR with a 300mm zoom lens
  • Solar eclipse glasses (of course!)

An RV to roam at will!

It's starting!

Time to look at the trees!

All the little crescents...

Very close now...

"Bailey's Beads"

The farmer's field we were in

Totality = 2mins 15seconds

Totality through the 8" telescope

Overall a incredible experience to witness in-person.  Worth the expense and effort.  We are already planning for the total eclipse in 2024!

All images copyright © 2017 Jeff Held.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One Night - four planets!

What a night for astrophotography!

On March 3rd, the night of the Mars opposition, conditions here cleared up to allow for some excellent planetary viewing.  Jupiter, Venus and Mercury were clearly visible in western sky just after sunset.  Mars rose high in the sky and was overhead at midnight.  I snapped a photo of the three planets in the western sky with my Pentax K-x and a wide angle lens, then turned my Meade LX-200 and StarImage camera to the sky and made the four-planet mosaic below.

Top to bottom: Jupiter, Venus and Mercury (the tiny dot of light just above the lower power lines.)

Four Planet Mosaic

Friday, February 24, 2012


Mercury on February 22, 2012 taken with an Orion Starshoot through a Meade ATX-80.  Mercury is about 2/3 full as it comes around the sun.