The Mercury Transit Expedition

The expedition began in earnest on the 7th when I began looking at my weather tools and trying to locate a site that would
be clear throughout the entirity of the event and was not too far distant. There was an upper level disturbance and the winds
aloft were situated on the Canadian-American border.  This was providing us with warmth (mid-sixties) but was socking us in
with cloud cover. The general direction of the cloud movement was northeast was very slow as a result. The best spot I could
find was near Gary Indiana.  Here's a large coverage map of the predicted cloud cover I got from the Clear Sky Clock Site.

As you can see from the map it was going to be clear at the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan at 2:00pm. Subsequent
maps predicted that this area would remain clear through 4pm and possibly thru  6pm. After that  it looked pretty dismal
everywhere. The only hope of getting a dusk shot would be chasing the "hole." So I decided that this was my best chance.
I googled the area and found The National Dunes State Park. I figured that a beachfront would give me a good dusk shot
so  I  decided to head there.

I arose at 6:00am on the 8th and scoured the wether reports again. My site selection still appeared to be the best spot.
By 8:00am I was packed and on the road. I drove the Ohio Turnpike westward through dense fog for abt 2 hours before
it began to lift. I crossed the Ohio-Indiana border and drove clear to Elkheart, Indiana before finally getting a glimpse of
the Sun.

I was happy to see that it was clearing in Elkheart because fellow BRAS member Dave Gulyas was heading there, or if
time permitted he would possibly meet me at the Park. (It was cloudy when got to Elkheart. He went about 30 miles
further westward before he stopped & setup. He got some great shots from his location.)

I arrived at the Park at 12:50pm. To my chagrin I could not find a spot to setup. Panic began to set in. I wasn't too concerned
about the first contact shots, I could get them anywhere, but I need a good horizon shot to get the dusk shot, so, with about
an hour to play with I checked the GPS software in my truck and selected an alternate site about 25 miles westward of my
current location.

Upon my arrival at Marquette Park, near Gary, Indiana , I knew I had found a sweet spot. I had a huge, entirely empty beach parking lot to myself. The
Sun would set over the water and behind the Gary Steel Blast Furnace. What a tremendous shot that would be. I quickly
began setting up. Here's a panorama of my site. (Right-Click to enlarge.)

And here's a shot of yours truly at the controls. I set up in this particular spot to shield myself from a strong, estimated  sustaind 10mph wind
with gusts up to 20mph.


Finally, the show began, right on schedule.  I may have missed first contact by a few seconds. I was caught off guard
by the size of Mercury. I should have realized it would be that small, but still........ I finally depressed the button on my
Olympus E-500 Digital SLR attached to My Meade LX2080 at prime focus and snagged this shot.  A large sunspot
and two smaller ones on the far side made this a fabulous transit. I can't wait to see some images of 3rd & 4th contact,
since it will occur very close to the 2 smaller sunspots.



Here are my photos. You can click the links to view the individual images.

Mercury Transit Image Directory


1stContact.jpg
1stContact.jpg
MidDisk.jpg
MidDisk.jpg
2ndContact.jpg
2ndContact.jpg
FullDisk.jpg
Full Disk.jpg
  DarkFlash.jpg
DarkFlash.jpg
2HoursLater.jpg
153.2HoursLater.jpg4 KB
Cloudy415pm.jpg
Cloudy415pm.jpg
EyepieceProjection.jpg
EyepieceProjection.jpg
This thumbnail page was generated by the evaluation version of ThumbsPlus



  At 4:00pm clouds began to propegate. They weren't moving in, just growing out of a clear sky. Lake effect was
going to bite me in the behind. By 4:30 the sky was covered and I quickly packed up and started heading east. My
intentions were to move to a clear site, but once I got on the freeway I realized how tired I was and decided to skip
the dusk shot and headed for home. While on the way I talked to Dave who had good luck at his site but was also
packing up as clouds were moving in over his site as well.

Before leaving I checked out the site to make sure I hadn't left anything. Years ago, visiting in Arizona I saw a sign,
supposedly attributed to local Indians. It read:
TAKE ONLY MEMORIES, LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS.

This page contains some of my memories, the photo below contains the footprints I left behind.


Interestingly enough, I forgot to waypoint this site in my GPS, so I used Google Earth
to locate the site. Imagine my surprise when I zoomed into Marquette Park and discoved
My Dodge Durango in the image.  I saved the image because it will only last until the next
scan.  This scan was taken between 3:30 & 4:00pm. I know this because there's also a white
car  parked behind mine. I remember a guy showing up and parking there. We was taking his
dog for a walk on the beach. He asked what I was doing and I showed him the transit thru the
scope.