How to view the upcoming Mercury transit
On Monday the 9th of May, the planet Mercury will make a rare transit of our Sun. Theevent is a precious opportunity to observe firsthand the ordinarily hiddencelestial mechanics that govern our solar system. Atortured ball of rock less than half the size of Earth, Mercuryrepresents the innermost planet in our Solar System, orbiting a mere 36million miles from our Sun.
Mercury is set in atilted orbital planecompared to our own, which stands as the root cause for the rarity of the planetary transfer that is known to occur 13 to 14 times each century, usually during the months of Mayor November. The last Mercury transit took place in 2006, andfollowing next week's event, the innermost planet in our solarsystem will not grace the fiery disk of our star until 2019.
It is possible toobserve the transit yourself with a powerful enough telescope or evenbinoculars but (for the love of god) be sure to equip a good solarfilter. Whatever you do, do notstare at the Sun with the naked eye. Mercury is only expected toblock 1/25000th of the Sun's light, so you're not going to seeanything, and you will likely be left with permanent damage to yourretinas as a constant reminder of your brief moment of stupidity.
Theeclipse will be observable from the entirety of the United States aswell as parts of Europe, Africa and most of Asia. Mercury's transit isnot going to be a brief, lunar eclipse-like event. Starting at 7:12a.m. EDT, the tiny planet will take roughly seven and a half hours toplod its way across the face of our neighborhood star, finallyescaping the edge of the Sun's disk at 2:42 p.m. EDT.
Alist of precise contact sites over 150 plus cities across America andCanada can be found on the Eclipse Wise website.
Lackinga telescope or clear skies, you can always watch the cosmic balletfrom the comfort of your home via the Slooh website.During the transit, Slooh will be streaming a live feed of footage from partners around the globe, paired with expert analysisand commentary.
Threesatellites, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Hinode solar mission and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be imaging theevent from orbit. Be sure to visit the NASA website during the transitfor a stream of stunning near-live images.
Scrolldown to observe a 10-second clip of Mercury's 2006 transit, constructed from images captured by the ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory