Get Ready for Mercury to Transit the Sun!

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday May 9th, Mercury will make its rare transit across the face of the Sun. This celestial event is a must-see and if you miss it, you’re out-of-luck until November of 2019.

What does it mean for Mercury to “transit” the Sun? This term is used when a planet is directly between the Earth and another object (in this case the Sun). On May 9th when Mercury makes its way between us and the Sun, we will experience a partial eclipse.

According to NASA, the transit will begin on Monday morning around 7:15 a.m. EDT and will last over seven hours. Luckily, everyone in the US will be able to observe the event and in fact, with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, and several areas of eastern Asia, nearly everyone on earth will be able to view this event.

How can I watch this event?

Technically, you can view this transit with the naked eye; however, it is not recommended to stare directly at the Sun. The best and safest way to view Mercury in transit is with a telescope fitted with a safe solar filter.

Mercury Facts

  • Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and also the smallest planet (4,879 kilometers)
  • The first mention of Mercury was around 3000 BC by the Sumerians
  • One day on Mercury lasts 176 Earth days, yet one year is only 88 Earth days
  • After Earth, Mercury is the second most dense planet
  • Mercury has 38% of Earth’s gravitational force
  • This planet has no moons or rings
  • Mercury is the second hottest planet (Venus is first) because it has no atmosphere to regulate its temperature.

    Be sure to take advantage of this free show starting Monday morning, it is sure to be spectacular. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see nature at it’s finest and is fun for the whole family.