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[Correction and apology]
There was a mistake in the press release issued on April 25.
Incorrect: The next transit of Mercury will occur in 2016.
Correct: The next transit of Mercury will occur in 2006.
We are very sorry for the mistake.

LIVE! MERCURY 2003 Press Release
April 28, 2003 (Amendment of the press release on April 25, 2003)

 


== Small Experimental Project LIVE! MERCURY 2003==
LIVE! UNIVERSE webcasts the transit of Mercury in real time
The transit in May is the first time in 33 years
-- From 2:00 p.m. to the sunset on May 7--
http://www.live-universe.org/lm2003/

Non-profit organization LIVE! UNIVERSE (Ohta Ward, Tokyo. Chairman is Masami Okyudo), which relays astronomical phenomena via various networks, will conduct the project "LIVE! MERCURY 2003" by webcasting the transit of Mercury on the surface of the sun.

"Transit of Mercury" is a phenomenon that the inferior conjunction of Earth and Mercury, one of the inferior planets, occurs and Mercury transits in front of the Sun slowly over 5 hours. In the Solar System, planets whose orbits are inside of the earth's orbit are called inferior planets (Mercury, Venus), and planets whose orbits are outside of the earth's orbit are called exterior planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). For Inferior planets, inferior conjunction in which the inferior planet comes between the Sun and the earth occurs rarely and the inferior planet and the Sun are seen in the same direction. In this case, we can observe the phenomenon that the inferior planet moves over the surface of the Sun. This phenomenon is called "Transit of Mercury" or "Transit of Venus". These are very rare phenomena, and a transit of Mercury occurs only in May or November because the orbit of Mercury is inclined 7 degrees to that of Earth. The last transit of Mercury occurred on November 16, 1999 and the transit in May is the first time in 33 years. The next transit of Mercury will occur in 2006.

The forecast of the transit of Mercury is as follows. As the sun sets before the Contact III, we cannot observe the Contact III and IV actually.

  JST UT
Contact I (The limb of Mercury is externally tangent with the Sun) 14:11:40 05:11:40
Contact II (The limb of Mercury is internally tangent with the Sun) 14:16:06 05:16:06
Sunset 18:31:54  
Contact III (The outer limb of Mercury reaches the opposite limb of the Sun) Cannot observe due to the sunset  
Contact IV (The limb of Mercury is externally tangent with the Sun) Cannot observe due to the sunset  

This phenomenon will be webcasted from 2:00 p.m. to the sunset on May 7. The webcast site is http://www.live-universe.org/lm2003/. In this web site, we are planning to make a content, which shows the current position of the Mercury and the course by the time through a fast-forward moving image. The highlight is the Contact I and II, just when Mercury visually enters the surface of the Sun. The movement of Mercury can be observed clearly from this moment.

The observation points for the webcast are:
* Katsushika City Museum (Katsushika, Tokyo)
* Hoshi no Gakkou Observatory (Ebina, Kanagawa)
* Bisei Observatory (Bisei, Okayama)

In this webcast, we will process the several still images in real time. In the above 3 observation points, we will take still images from a digital camera or capture them from a CCD camera at regular time intervals, then send them to the server after the image processing. The still images sent to the server are automatically converted to MPEG* files in real time and uploaded to the webcast site sequentially. To watch the webcast, QuickTime plug-in is necessary.

This is the first attempt for LIVE! UNIVERSE to webcast the transit of Mercury. LIVE! UNIVERSE positions this project as a small experimental project to enhance the main project, webcast of solar eclipses. There are two tasks: one is how to present an unspectacular astronomical phenomenon, and the other is how to utilize moving images generated from several still images in real time.

Yuichi Ichikawa, one of the directors of LIVE! UNIVERSE, made a following remark:
The study of celestial bodies is difficult because their movement is very slow. This transit of Mercury is a very good opportunity to study the orbits of planets in the Solar System. If the weather is fine, try to project the sunlight on a board through telescope at school and show it to the students. Sketching the movement of Mercury and calculating the orbit are effective as an experiential learning. If the weather is not fine, we are very glad that our website is utilized in the class.

* MPEG: Moving Picture Expert Group. Data compress format for color moving images.

About LIVE! UNIVERSE
http://www.live-universe.org/
LIVE! UNIVERSE is a non-profit organization, which has broadcasted astronomical phenomena such as solar eclipse via the Internet from all over the world. Its members are amateur astronomers, professional astronomers, network engineers, etc., and some of the members webcasts the astronomical phenomenon from the field via from the INMARSAT, INTELSAT, etc. The web sites are always provided in Japanese and English, and have presented astronomical phenomenon to the world as one of the entertainments. The technology of taking images has improved each time and has successfully presented beautiful images. Besides, thanks to the broadband, the web contents are used in distance learning at school education or astronomical observatories.

The members participate LIVE! UNIVERSE to try various technologies. They not only get the sense of fulfillment, but also enjoy and believe the value of presenting striking experience of natural phenomenon to the world via the Internet. Webcasting has performed as LIVE! ECLIPSE and LIVE! LEONIDS Executive Committees since 1997.

These two executive committees were integrated and established as a non-profit organization, LIVE! UNIVERS in 2002 May. The chairman is Masami Okyudo, Director of Misato Observatory.
For the past projects, please visit http://www.live-universe.org/ja/project.htmlB

<For the press>
LIVE! UNIVERSE Public Relations Department: Ishikawa
press@live-universe.org

* Please send the articles on LIVE! UNIVERSE to the following address
K. Ishikawa
Midorigaoka 2-44-5-103
Chofu City, Tokyo
182-0001

©2003 LIVE! UNIVERSE office:info@live-universe.org