On Monday Nov. 11, 2019, there will be a rare event called Mercury transits. This phenomenon is going to happen and it won’t be seen again until 2032.
The Mercury transits are rare events because it only happens about 13 times a century. The event occurs when the nearest planet to the sun comes in between Earth and the Sun. During a transit, Mercury appears as a tiny black dot moving across the disk of the sun.
Mitzi Adams is a solar scientist in the Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She said, “Viewing transits and eclipses provide opportunities to engage the public, to encourage one and all to experience the wonders of the universe and to appreciate how precisely science and mathematics can predict celestial events. Of course, safely viewing the sun is one of my favorite things to do.”
The transit will be visible for a significant portion of the globe, including most of North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. If you are not be able to witness the event, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Orbiter will be posting images from the transit.
The process will start 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. The event will last for six hours.
It is best for you not to look directly at the sun with the naked eye. You’re going to need the right equipment to see the transit. Mercury‘s tiny disk, jet black and perfectly round, covers a tiny fraction of the sun’s blinding surface. That is only 1/283 of the sun’s apparent diameter. Therefore, your regular eclipse glasses won’t work. You’ll need the magnification of a telescope (minimum of 50x) with a solar filter to view the transit.