Transit of Mercury, 9 May 2016

The countdown has begun. On May 9, 2016, start your Monday morning with a transit of Mercury, when the innermost planet is visible through a properly filtered telescope as it passes in front of the sun. For details, see my Transit of Mercury page. Stay tuned to this website for announcements on observing opportunities.

Unlike the popular 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus, which could be seen with a naked eye through a solar filter, the upcoming transit of Mercury requires magnification because the planet is further away and appears smaller. On the upside, the planet's proximity to the sun allows us to see more transits by the inner planet. The most recent transits of Mercury were in 2003 and 2006; the next ones are in 2019 and 2032.

In the interim, you can build a Sun Funnel that attaches to a modest telescope in order for a group of people to observe a magnified image of the sun safely.

Transit of Mercury; by SOHO.

2016 Transit of Mercury (starts 11:12 UTC, mid-transit at 14:57 UTC, ends at 18:42 UTC) on May 9, 2016.

Note: daylight saving time (DST) starts March 13

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