Rare Event Mercury Will Transit the Sun on May 9 2016

05/05/2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Astronomy and Space News

Mercury transit 2016

A rare celestial event will be happening on May 9th with the transit of the planet Mercury.

The passage of Mercury against the dazzling sun is a relatively rare occurrence and is the first since 2006. It has generated much excitement among star gazers and amateur astronomers.

From the earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are visible. There are approximately 13 to 14 transits of Mercury each century. In comparison, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair. The last transit of Venus was seen on June 5, 2012.

Mercury, the innermost planet, is never easy to study from the Earth. It is small and always stays in the same region of the sky as the sun, and never comes much closer than 80 million kilometres.

While it won’t be as dramatic as a total solar eclipse, the transit of Mercury is one of this year’s most awaited astronomical events. According to NASA, this event only occurs around 13 times per century. The next transit won’t happen until 2019.

The reason this event is so rare is because Mercury orbits the sun at a different angle than Earth. While the small planet’s short tilted orbit means it crosses between Earth and the sun every 116 days, it usually appears to pass either below or above, the Royal Astronomical Society reports. A transit can only take place when Mercury, Earth and the sun are perfectly aligned in three-dimensional space.

Because this transit lasts more than 7 hours, the Earth will turn enough that parts of the transit will be visible nearly everywhere on Earth except for Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines and a small area of eastern Asia.

Observers in eastern North America will be able to see the whole transit, while the transit will already have begun as the sun rises in the western half of the continent.

Please do look at the sun directly with any device or your own eyes this will cause major damage! stay safe