UVI Invites Public to View Solar Transit of Mercury on Planetarium Day

2019 mercury transit of sun joe bonner

Mercury crossing the face of the sun. Courtesy Joe Bonner

"Mercury passes in front of the sun approximately a dozen times each century, but the November 11 event will be the last one visible from North America until 2049", said Mike Brake, Oklahoma City Astronomy Club member.

When it comes between the sun and the earth on Monday, the planet Mercury will appear as a small black dot moving across the face of the sun (unlike a solar eclipse, when the moon wholly or partially covers the sun).

The previous transit of Mercury was observed in May 2016, and the space enthusiasts will be able to watch the next spectacular celestial event on November 13, 2032. The Tulare Astronomical Association is offering a free public viewing of this exceedingly rare transit through a telescope equipped with a solar filter; this special viewing will take place at the Arthur Pursell Observatory located south of Tulare.

"I do want to stress though that people must follow the safety advice - looking at the sun without appropriate protection can seriously damage your eyes". If you don't already have one of those, it might be a bit pricey to get one just for this. A rare celestial phenomenon. As long as you don't have to buy anything, how can you pass up an offer like that?

Mercury transits do not occur randomly. Both events will have their own special equipment, so just bring your curiosity.

Though Mercury speeds around the Sun every 88 days, it has a highly eccentric orbit that takes it as close as 29 million miles (47 million km) and as far away as 43 million miles (70 million km) from the star.

KW residents have three options for viewing Mercury in transit.

- Alternate show: Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Sightseers would only have a few hours to see the event - which would start at 7:35 a.m. EST and would end until 1:04 p.m. EST. Pacific Time. However, even those on the US West Coast will have to wait for the sun to rise to view it. Most of the time you'll find this person deepen into her laptop with big fat glasses, browsing one or the other things. The event will continue until noon. A transit is when a celestial object, like a planet (in this case Mercury), passes directly in front of the sun.

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