Mercury puts on rare show as it passes across the sun

pCloud Premium

Mercury is putting on a rare celestial show, parading across the sun in view of most of the world. The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet will resemble a tiny black dot Monday as it passes directly between Earth and the sun. It began at 7:35 a.m. EST.

The entire 5 ½-hour event will be visible, weather permitting, in the eastern U.S. and Canada, and all Central and South America. The rest of North America, Europe and Africa will catch part of the action. Asia and Australia will miss out.

Mercury Transit
In this composite image provided by NASA, the planet Mercury passes directly between the sun and Earth on May 9, 2016 in a transit which lasted seven-and-a-half-hours. On Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, Mercury will make another transit. AP

Unlike its 2016 transit, Mercury will score a near bull’s-eye this time, passing practically dead center in front of our star. Mercury’s next transit isn’t until 2032, and North America won’t get another viewing opportunity until 2049. Earthlings get treated to just 13 or 14 Mercury transits a century.

Trending News

How to watch

You’ll need proper eye protection for Monday’s spectacle: Telescopes or binoculars with solar filters are recommended. As with a solar eclipse, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without special protective eyewear — not just regular sunglasses. There’s no harm in pulling out the eclipse glasses from the total solar eclipse across the U.S. two years ago, but it would take “exceptional vision” to spot minuscule Mercury, said NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young.

During its 2012 transit of the sun, larger and closer Venus was barely detectable by Young with his solar-viewing glasses. “That’s really close to the limit of what you can see,” he said earlier this week. “So Mercury’s going to probably be too small.” Venus transits are much rarer. The next one isn’t until 2117.

Mercury is 3,000 miles in diameter, compared with the sun’s 864,000 miles. You can watch a live stream of the Mercury transit with expert commentary from the Slooh community observatory site below:

The Transit of Mercury

Join us on Monday, November 11th, starting at 7:30 AM EST | 12:30UTC to watch the spectacular and rare Transit of Mercury! We’ll have to wait until 2032 before we get to see this magical event again. Slooh will train its highly specialized Solar Telescope, based at its flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, on the tiny planet Mercury as it crosses the face of the Sun. We will also have live streams from our partner observatories in Sharjah, Europe, and the USA. Join Slooh host, Paul Cox, and Slooh’s experts Bob Berman and Dr Mike Shaw, along with some special guests who will tell us everything there is to know about Mercury, the Sun, and planetary transits. The team will be discussing the phenomena as viewers snap their own images from the live streams. They will also discuss the importance of planetary transits in history and why major expeditions to view them were organized at great expense during the 1700s. Viewers can interact with the team using Slooh’s chat facility when watching at

Posted by Slooh on Monday, November 11, 2019

Mercury will cut a diagonal path left to right across the sun on Monday, entering at bottom left (around the 8 hour mark on a clock) and exiting top right (around the 2 hour mark).

Although the trek will appear slow, Mercury will zoom across the sun at roughly 150,000 mph (241,000 kph).

NASA will broadcast the transit as seen from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, with only a brief lag. Scientists will use the transit to fine-tune telescopes, especially those in space that cannot be adjusted by hand, according to Young.

It’s this kind of transit that allows scientists to discover alien worlds. Periodic, fleeting dips of starlight indicate an orbiting planet.

“Transits are a visible demonstration of how the planets move around the sun, and everyone with access to the right equipment should take a look,” Mike Cruise, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said in a statement from England.

Watch Mercury Travel Across the Face of the Sun

Good morning, Sunshine! ☀️ Today, the planet Mercury will pass between the Earth and the Sun, silhouetting it against our home star. The passage, which astronomers call a transit, will begin at approximately 7:35 a.m. EST and last for more than five hours. Here’s how you can watch: ⚠️ Remember to always use a safe Sun filter to protect your eyes!

Posted by NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Monday, November 11, 2019

pCloud Premium

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.