Rare transit of Mercury occurring today

Mercury is passing in front of the sun Monday in a rare phenomenon

Watch Mercury Cut Across the Sun Today

It starts at about 6:35 a.m. CST, but viewers in some areas, such as the West Coast, will have to wait until the Sun rises at their location to see the transit already in progress.

Space for Life is inviting anyone who is interested in taking part in the event to visit the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium from 7 a.m. until 1:04 p.m.

The entire event is visible from the eastern U.S. and Canada, the south-western tip of Greenland, most of the Caribbean, Central America, the whole of South America and some of West Africa.

The transits of mercury are viewed from the earth in early May and November since this is the time the event takes place. Mercury's next transit isn't until 2032, and North America won't get another viewing opportunity until 2049.

Each century, Mercury passes between the sun and the Earth about 13 or 14 times.

Rather, you'll need a telescope or binoculars fitted with a special solar filter.

While it takes the innermost planet only 88 days to orbit the sun (about nine months less than our world), Mercury's orbit is tilted, so it seldom lines up perfectly with the Sun and Earth.




Mercury is 3,000 miles in diameter, compared with the sun's 864,000 miles. Since each planet orbits the sun during different times of the year, it makes it hard for people on earth to see these transits.

'That's really close to the limit of what you can see, ' he said earlier this week.

So if you have a small telescope, get it out. The following one isn't until 2117.

Mercury will cut a diagonal path left to right across the sun on Monday, entering at bottom left (around the 8 hour mark on a clock) and exiting top right (around the 2 hour mark). It's this kind of transit that allows scientists to discover alien worlds.

"Another use of transits is the dimming of Sun or starlight as a planet crosses in front of it".

NASA said: "Never look at the Sun directly or through a telescope without proper protection".

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