Mercury to transit across sun in May

In a rare occurence, the tiniest planet Mercury will travel in front of the sun


News Desk April 08, 2016
The tiniest planet Mercury will travel in front of the sun in May. PHOTO: NASA

If you’re an astronomy buff then start preparing for one of the major astronomical events of 2016.

At the start of May the tiniest planet Mercury will travel in front of the sun in a rare sight.

Mercury and Venus pass between Earth and the sun, from time to time, and are visible as tiny black dots on the sun’s face. Such transits do not occur very often, because the orbits of these planets are tilted at different angles from that of the Earth's.

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While Mercury's transit is more common than the twice-in-a-century transit of Venus, it is still a rare event, and the planet won't travel between the sun and Earth again for another three and a half years.

go movie

The transit will occur when Mercury passes between the sun and Earth, and happens around 13 or 14 times each century. This year the event kicks off on May 9 just after 7am EDT (9pm AEST, 11am UTC), with the planet taking around eight hours to make its way across the Sun.

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The event can be viewed online and in some continents stargazers can view the entire transit.

If you plan to watch the rare event you will need a telescope, and a solar filter because Mercury is going to look quite tiny compared to the Sun. You may also need some magnification to view it clearly.

This article originally appeared on Science Alert

COMMENTS (1)

Arsal | 5 years ago | Reply Got my telescope broken last year... witnessed 2012 venus transit and took brilliant pics
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