A rare astronomical event that will last 5.5 hours, and will be visible throughout North and South America, as well as in Europe, Africa, and western Asia is set to occur on November 11, 2019, so get ready for a stunning stellar show.
On Monday, Nov. 11, Mercury will pass between Earth and the Sun and in this way will star in a rare astronomical event that will not be repeated again in 13 years. The next one will occur on November 13, 2032.
From our perspective on Earth, we can only ever see two planets pass in front of the Sun: Mercury and Venus[…], so it is a rare event that you will not want to miss. Transits of Venus are an even rarer event and the next one is set to happen un 2117.
During the cosmic spectacle, which will last about 5.5 hours, Mercury will be visible as a black dot that moves in front of the Sun. However, the small size of this planet makes it impossible to enjoy the event without the use of specially equipped binoculars or telescopes.
CAUTION: Looking directly at the sun can cause permanent vision damage, the transit should only be viewed through proper protection.
For those who would like to observe the event, but don’t have the necessary equipment consider looking up a viewing party at a local museum or astronomy club event.
As explained by NASA, the transit will begin at 4:35 a.m. PST, although viewers in certain areas, such as the West Coast, won’t be able to see it until the Sun is visible in the sky.
Thankfully, this transit will last about 5.5 hours, so there will be plenty of time to catch the show. At approximately 8:20 a.m. PST, Mercury will be as close as it is going to get to the center of the Sun.
In addition to providing a spectacular show, Mercury’s transit will provide scientists on Earth with an opportunity to study the planet.
“When Mercury is in front of the sun, we can study the exosphere close to the planet,” said NASA scientist Rosemary Killen. “Sodium in the exosphere absorbs and re-emits a yellow-orange color from sunlight, and by measuring that absorption, we can learn about the density of gas there.”
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and a recent study also revealed that strangely, Mercury is also the closes planet to Earth, and every other world in the solar system for that matter.