The Mercury transit 9 May 2016

I haven’t been able to use my telescopes for a couple of months, but the Mercury transit couldn’t be missed. Back home after work I set up and began observations at 15:00 UT. I was treated with a clear blue sky and acceptable seeing. For the observation I used my trusted 10″ SkyWatcher dobsonian, masked down to 4″, and a 17 mm Baader Hyperion eyepiece (for 70x). I followed the transit for about an hour and a half. By that time the sun had dropped towards the horizon and the seeing deteriorated.

Times as indicated on the sketch. Subtract 2 hours for UT.

Not as impressive as the Venus transit a couple of years ago, I still found the slow progress of Mercury over the face of the sun fascinating to observe. The planet was small, very distinct (of course), and nicely framed by to sunspot groups: AR2542 the larger group at the bottom and AR2543 close to the center of the solar disc. The direction of Mercury’s movement was difficult to pinpoint, and might be a bit off.

I also tried to capture the event with my (handheld) cell phone. Below is the best of several tries.

The Mercury transit captured with a handheld Samsung cellphone.

Triple Conjunction October 2015

On normal weekday mornings there are no time for astronomical observations, but this morning the cat woke me up half a hour before the alarm was set. After feeding her I looked out the kitchen window towards the east, and was treated with Venus at it’s very best, supported by both Jupiter and Mars. The triple conjunction was set on a crispy and velvet black sky and crowned by magnificent Leo.

The magic of the moment is lost in my sketch, but at least it capture the event. Leo is drawn free hand, and the proportions are a bit off.

Observed naked eye on 21 October 2015, UT 04:00. From the left: Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.


In addition to the observation presented above, I have sketched the conjunction on three different occasions.

Left: 24 October 2015, UT 05:00. From top to bottom: Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Sig Leo. Middle: 27 October 2015, UT 05:10. Jupiter, Venus and Mars. Right: 28 October 2015, UT 05:20. Jupiter, Venus and Mars. Note that even if the spatial relations between the planets are about right, the scaling and rotation differs somewhat.

Jupiter-Venus Conjunction

The conjunction was observed on the evening of 30 June. At the time the sun had just sunken below the horizon so the sky was still bright (not that it ever gets very dark during the Swedish summers). The sky was clear but I had some interfering altocumulus to the west. Eventually the clouds drifted away, making room for the celestial display. I used my SkyWatcher 10″ for the observations. The first sketch was made with a Baader Hyperion 24 mm eyepiece (50x, FOV ca 80′), the second with a Hyperion 13 mm (92x, FOV ca 44′). At the eyepiece the two planets took on very different appearances. Venus, being the brighter of the two, shone in brilliant white, showing its crescent phase very well. In comparison Jupiter was duller, its disc displaying a brownish hue. Despite the lack of contrast the two main belts were quite distinct. Some lingering clouds made for at nice forefront.

Konjunktion Jupiter och Venus 30 juni 2015
30 June 2015, UT 20:20.
Konjunktion Jupiter och Venus 30 juni 2015_2
30 June 2015, UT 20:30.


Constantly changing Jupiter is always an interesting target. Below is three sketches made during this spring when Jupiter has been comfortable situated in the evening sky. The first one was made on 30 March 2015, UT 19:30, using a Skywatcher 10″ dobsonian and a TeleVue Nagler zoom 3-6 mm. The seeing was quite good allowing for a magnification of  240x. The Great Red Spot showed up well and displayed a warm orange tint. At the time Jupiter’s moons where in double conjunctions with Europa and Io on the eastern side (left i sketch), and Ganymede and Callisto on the western.

The second sketch was made on 3 April 2015, UT 18:30, equipment as above. Seeing was average and I had to settle for a magnification of 200x.

The third sketch was made on 8 April 2015, UT 19:30, equipment as above. The GRS was just emerging at the western limb. Not sure why, but I have managed to exaggerate its proportions, and also to darken its surroundings a bit to much.

Jupiter 30 mars 2015 Jupiter 3 april 2015 Jupiter 8 april 2015

Mars map

During the spring of 2012 I was engaged in an observation project devoted to the planet Mars. My ambition was to make enough observations during the 2012 opposition to be able to create my own map of our neighbour. And this is the result.


For the observations I used my GSO 16″ dobsonian and a BGO 9 mm eyepiece (seeing permitting I also used a BGO 5 mm). In total i made ten observations, each stretching for about a hour.

To create the map I used a photographic map in the same projection to transfer my different sketches to a master sketch. The new sketch was then edited i Photoshop.

Below is one of the original sketches (CM about 45°).