Watch rare transit of Mercury on May 9

Watch rare transit of Mercury on May 9

On May 9, the smallest planet of our Solar System, Mercury, will make a rare transit. Mercury will pass directly between earth and the sun. Last time, the transit took place in 2006 and next events will be in 2019 and 2032.

The transit will take place in the afternoon and early evening in the UK and Mercury will appear as a dark disk against the bright surface of the sun. In the UK, the transit will start at 1112 GMT and end at 1842 GMT.

Experts shared that observers will be able to see the transit at different places at varying times. Western Europe, the western part of North and West Africa, the eastern part of North America and most of South America are the places from where the entire event would visible.

Mercury completes its orbit around the Sun in every 88 days and passes between earth and the Sun every 116 days. A transit can only take place when earth, mercury and the Sun are exactly in line.

In each century, there are 13 or 14 transits owing to which the event is considered as rare. For the first time, the transit was seen in 1631, two decades after the invention of the telescope. At any time, Mercury does not cover more than a tiny part of light from the sun, which means that the event should not be seen without unaided eyes.

On May 9, UK amateur astronomical societies and public observatories will be showing the events and public would be able to enjoy the same with complete safety.

“It is always exciting to see rare astronomical phenomena, such as this transit of Mercury. They show that astronomy is a science that is accessible to everyone, and I would encourage you to take a look if the weather is clear”, said Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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