EDP photographer’s montage shot of the Mercury transit

A montage of the Mercury Transit across the Sun on the 9th May 2016. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A montage of the Mercury Transit across the Sun on the 9th May 2016. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Viewed through the correct equipment, it appeared as a tiny speck on the Sun.

But the passing of the smallest planet in our solar system between the Earth and the Sun made a big impression among many following its progress.

EDP photographer Matthew Usher took a series of pictures throughout the day.

Using a special filter on his camera, he then created the montage shot above by placing a number of images on top of one another.

'I was struck by how small Mercury is in comparison to the Sun,' he said. 'It was a really enjoyable day and I'm delighted with the outcome.'

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Enthusiasts gathered at spots across the region to track the so-called Transit of Mercury – a phenomenon that occurs only 13 times each century.

Using specialist equipment, the astronomers watched as the small black dot moved across the Sun – during an eight-hour window from midday yesterday.

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Despite the planet's seemingly slow movement across the sky, it was in fact travelling at almost 106,000 miles per hour.

Ten years have passed since the event last occurred in our country – when Mercury, Earth and the Sun lined up.

Members of the public were also given the chance to take part – as the Lowestoft and Yarmouth Regional Astronomers (LYRA) gathered on the Royal Green in Lowestoft to see the planet, which completes an orbit every 88 days and is 3,000 miles in diameter.

A number of solar scopes, specially designed to look at the Sun, were in position along with an eight-inch skywatcher – with a 100 times magnification – particularly relevant as Mercury is about 33 million miles from the Sun.

'It was overwhelming to see – truly amazing,' said LYRA member Nicki Barnett.

'To the general public it might seem like a black ball bearing going across a bright light, but when you realise exactly what is going on, it really gives you the 'wow' factor.'

Steve Hubbard, 72, chairman of LYRA, was keen to urge members of the public to view the spectacle safely and not look directly into the Sun without specialist equipment.

Over in King's Lynn, seven specialist telescopes were set up on the busy Tuesday Market Place.

Dave Talbot, committee member of King's Lynn and District Astronomy Society, said: 'The whole aim of this is to make it as accessible to as many people as we can – luckily we have been blessed with a nice day.'

Richard Last, membership secretary at the society, said: 'It's incredible; there has been a lot of interest from the general public and people coming to see what's going on.'

Astronomer Lawrence Harris, 70, tracked the event from his garden observatory in Stowupland, Suffolk.

'I was looking through my records and these transits are extremely rare. The last one was back in 2008, but that one involved Venus,' he said.

Did you take any pictures of the Mercury transit? Email joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk

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