Mercury's Transit of the Sun - November 15, 1999

Third Contact
Scope/Lens: C8 at prime focus
Film: Fujicolor Superia 400
Exposure: 1/60 second f/10
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Date: November 15, 1999
Time: 14:40 PST

This is the 14th and last transit of Mercury on the face of the Sun in the Twentieth Century. I am ready! I prepared my equipment. I am ready! WRONG! I've prepared for this day for two weeks. I ran tests with a C8 using an Thousand Oaks Solar filter and a H-Alpha filter. I've shot test rolls. I am ready! What I was not ready for was the "duhhh" in the human brain.

I set up my rig; aligned to north and found the sun.

Now it's time to load the camera, a Nikon F. I load the film and attach the camera to the tube. I watch first contact followed by second contact. Things are going well. The sky is clear and the rain which had been predicted along the Central Coast has not materialized.

So here I am on the 15th of November, 1999, watching the planet Mercury cross the face of the sun. This is only the 14th time in this century this has happened, it will not happen again until the year 2349!

I watch First Contact and then Second Contact. I continue to make exposures. Then, the planet is mid-way in its transit across the face of the Sun.

I continue to take pictures and now it's ready for Third Contact. From the corner of my eye I notice the film re-wind knob is NOT moving. I realize the film has never advanced in the camera.

What would you do? Ask for retake? I quickly load a new roll of film and see I have one chance to get an Third Contact shot. This is what you see.

I could tell you it was the Devil's Fault! It was the fault of all those people milling about me. Nope, it was my fault.

So, now what do I do? My wife says she's leery about my going to Africa in the next century to photograph an eclipse.

Heck, I could get to Africa and look in my camera bag and see I forgot the film!

© 1999 Anthony Galván III
All rights reserved. Any use without written permission is prohibited.