So you missed Mercury transiting the Sun last month and thought you were going to have to wait another three whole years to see the rare astronomical event? Not at all. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory was busy shooting the entire thing in 4K, and it just released three glorious highlight reels. Even if you did tune into a live stream, this is an encore you don’t want to miss.
Each of the videos released by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio this week depicts the same transit event—Mercury crossing the Sun on May 9th, 2016—by combining partial images taken at 12 second intervals with full disk images captured every 90 seconds. With three different filters, NASA is offering us a range of 4K-by-4K viewing experiences that show three distinct faces of our mighty Sun: fiery, smoldering, and glowering.
This is the probably the best Mercury transit you’re going to see without pulling up close on a spacecraft, and frankly, better in the sense that you don’t burn your face off watching. Here’s my favorite of the videos, shot with SDO’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager telescope:
And here are a few stills. See if you can spot Mercury in each!
As a small aside, it’s a bit disturbing NASA waited until now to release these incredibly high definition, carefully edited photos and videos. The pics were taken last month and we pay their salaries in tax dollars. As Fox News made clear this week, ‘Murica expects a little better.
But we’ll forgive NASA just this one time. You can download the full videos and a range of still images here.