Sunny Summer

What a great summer we have so far. Gardens are not very happy but we got plenty of sun!

Talking about the Sun... This is a picture I just took of the sun with our Lunt LS60THa telescope and a Grasshopper camera. I recorded a video and out of the 600 frames taken by the video, took the best 300 and stacked them and then enhanced the contrast.


Now compare with a picture of the National Solar Observatory Integrated Synoptic Program taken in Big Bear, CA, USA at roughly the same time.

Enjoy the summer!


Mercury Transit

Did you hear about it? A tiny eclipse happened on May 9, 2016. The planet Mercury put itself directly in between us and the Sun for several hours. Here's what we were seeing. Do you see the little black circle on the surface of the Sun, at 4 o'clock? That's Mercury. 

Mercury transit in Halpha

 Photo credit: Jim Thompson, Carleton University Alumni, B. Eng Aero '94 and M. Eng Aero '96 (2016)

The Science Odyssey organized a public observing event at the Canadian Parliament. Roughly 20 telescopes were installed in the front lawn, including the Physics Department's recently acquired one. I had to take a selfie with the telescope in front of the Parliament, right? 

Etienne Rollin Selfie

I was not the only one looking at the transit, our Science Minister, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, and was also present. How cool is it having a Science Minister actually looking through a telescope! I should also mention that the Minister of Transport AND first Canadian in space AND former Chancellor of Carleton University, the Honourable Marc Garneau, was also present.

Minister Duncan looking through a telescope

Photo credit: Dr. Janet Tulloch 
Contract Instructor at the College of Humanities of Carleton University since 2001 (2016)

Mecury was blocking only 0.004% of the sunlight, so it was impossible to see any effect unless you looked at the transit with a special telescope. Mercury appeared tiny in front of the Sun, which is very different that the transit of Venus that we were extremely lucky to see in 2012.  For a comparison, I put pictures of the two transits together roughly to scale. Mercury is on top and Venus is below.

Mercury (top - 2016) and Venus (bottom - 2012) transits

 Photo credit 
Above: Jim Thompson, 
Carleton University Alumni, B. Eng Aero '94 and M. Eng Aero '96 (2016)
Below: Etienne Rollin, Laboratory Supervisor, Carleton University (2012) 

If you missed the transit of Mercury, the next one will occur on Nov 11, 2019, and it will be visible from Ottawa. But don't miss it, the one after that is going to be in 2032. As for the next transit of Venus, it's going to be in 2117, and not visible from Ottawa, sorry! If it can comfort you, tonight, after sunset, look down and you'll see a transit of the Earth ;-).

Etienne Rollin