The inner-planet Mercury put things into perspective.
On May 9, 2016, a rare event happened. The tiny planet Mercury’s orbit passed directly between our own Earth’s orbit and the Sun. When an object passes in between us and another celestial body, it is referred to as a transit.
The transit of Mercury [Wikipedia] had astrophotographers located on much of the globe salivating at the chance to capture an event such as this, because it only happens a few times each century.
For about 7.5 hours a tiny black dot, the planetary disc of Mercury, blocked a very small part of our view of the Sun from Earth as it moved along its orbit. During that time, the Internet exploded with social media sharing of images, stories, and live video streams from around the globe. From professional-quality feeds from worldwide space agencies, to amateur astrophotographers and enthusiasts alike, everyone was excited to share their views.
We often see computer models explaining the relative sizes of celestial bodies or superimposed images of the earth next to a solar filament or sunspot in an attempt to demonstrate the sheer size differences of our planet vs. the Sun, but none of those is as powerful as seeing this happen in reality, on our cameras or through our telescopes, with our own eyes. And don’t forget that in the grand scheme of things, the Sun is a relatively small star!
Our own PhotographingSpace.com Image of the Week featured one of our reader’s submissions, and we’ve also featured a story that does a wonderful job detailing the intense dedication often required, the frustration, and the eventual excitement of astrophotography as a hobby. Read it here: Behind the Image: 20 Seconds to Success.