Join astronomers to watch Mercury Transit

The observatory at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon SK

This event is called a transit.

11, brings with it the opportunity to watch as the solar system's smallest planet, Mercury, passes between Earth and the sun. "Humans have been watching patterns in the sky for millennia". But when far tinier Mercury does it, it's referred to as a "transit".

This chart shows the track that Mercury will follow during Monday's transit. One sure way not to do it is to try looking directly at the sun with your unprotected eyes. There's no harm in pulling out the eclipse glasses from the total solar eclipse across the US two years ago, but it would take "exceptional vision" to spot minuscule Mercury, said NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young. With solar filters and a telescope, Mercury can be seen as a small, dark, round dot on the sun's face.

NASA says the transit is a teachable moment for orbital mechanics: Even though Mercury swings around the sun every 88 days, not every passage results in a transit across the sun's disk as seen from Earth.

Unlike its 2016 transit, Mercury will score a near bull's-eye this time, passing practically dead center in front of our star. Such devices need solar filters on the lenses to protect the eyes from damage. The Besser Museum is holding a free viewing party for anyone who wants to witness the transit, and they have special telescopes for people to use.


The transit begins at 5:35 a.m. Mountain time, 1 hour and 15 minutes before local sunrise at 6:50 a.m.

Observers in eastern Asia, southern and south-eastern Asia, and Australia will not be able to see the transit.

Don't get your hopes up for a Venus transit next - that won't happen until 2117.

Here on Earth, several video streams will be running, courtesy of the Slooh online observatory, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, TimeAndDate.com and the Virtual Telescope Project 2.0. That's because the orbits of the planets are tipped with respect to each other.

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