Planet Mercury passes across the face of the Sun

Katie Ramirez
November 11, 2019

From our perspective on Earth, Mercury will look like a tiny black dot gliding across the Sun's face.

You'll need proper eye protection for Monday's spectacle: Telescopes or binoculars with solar filters are recommended.

Since the orbits of Mercury and Venus are located between the sun and earth's orbit, it makes it possible for the two planets to transit in front of the sun. This composite image shows the Mercury transit in May 2016. So scroll down and enjoy the unbelievable photos of the 2019 transit of Mercury.

To experience the entire (five-hour-long) event, people in central and western U.S. will have to find a spot outside before sunrise; anyone watching from easterly regions can wait until just after daybreak. And in the case of Mercury, it occurs only about 13 times per century. This time, the transit will be visible in a lot of regions (including Euope and Africa), but folks in North and South America will have the best view. There's no mischief in hauling out the obscuration glasses from the all out sunlight based overshadowing over the USA two years prior, yet it would take "uncommon vision" to spot tiny Mercury, said NASA sunlight based astrophysicist Alex Young.

Mercury to pass across the sun Monday
The same technique will be used by the European Space Agency's PLATO mission, expected to launch in 2026. Nasa is warning people against looking directly at the Sun because that can lead to permanent eye damage.

Mercury is 3,000 miles in diameter, compared with the sun's 864,000 miles.

Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System.

During its 2012 transit of the sun, larger and closer Venus was barely detectable by Young with his solar-viewing glasses. 'So Mercury's going to probably be too small'. The next one isn't until 2117. Secondly, the location Mercury will appear to move in front of the sun. Scientists will use the transit to fine-tune telescopes, especially those in space that can not be adjusted by hand, according to Young. Periodic, fleeting dips of starlight indicate an orbiting planet.

Remember NEVER look directly at the sun.

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