On November 11 this year, Mercury will be passing across the sun, and people will be able to see it. It next observation will be made in 2032. Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system and very close to the earth. It last transited the sun in 2016.
According to NASA, Mercury will set its journey on November 11 across the sun at around 7.35 a.m. EST (1235 GMT). The entire event is likely to take place for approximately five and a half hours and end at around 1.04 pm EST (1804 GMT).
As the planet will be passing in front of the sun, it will look like a tiny traveling blemish on the face of the sun. Since the transit world is very small, it will also require special gear-telescopes or binoculars that are fitted with filters to observe the event. The solar filters help in protecting the rays of the solar from reaching the eyes and causing damage to the eyes of an observer.
Since the orbits of Mercury and Venus are located between the sun and earth’s orbit, it makes it possible for the two planets to transit in front of the sun. The average distance of Mercury from the sun is believed to be 35,983,095 miles (57,909,175 kilometres).
Mercury is observed, making 13 transitions for every hundred years around the face of the sun. Mercury has to be in the right place and the right time to move around the sun kilometres making the transitions very rare.
The transits of mercury are viewed from the earth in early May and November since this is the time the event takes place. Since each planet orbits the sun during different times of the year, it makes it difficult for people on earth to see these transits. Also, Mercury and do not meet at the nodes at the same.
The transiting process
First, the disk of the Mercury touches the edge of the sun externally and acquiring a tangent position to the sun. Secondly, the location Mercury will appear to move in front of the sun. Thirdly, Mercury starts to cross over the edge of the sun’s disk that is at the near end of the transit. Lastly, the shadow of Mercury gets into contact with the edge of the sun’s disk. This marks the end of the process.
The transit of Mercury will be visible from countries like America, Europe, among others. Those on the US East Coast will have a chance to view the event since the sun will already have risen at the time of that event.
This post was originally published on The Picayune Current