By MAY 8, 2016


An image of Mercury passing past the Sun.

On Monday, you can watch Mercury sail across the sun.

It’s an astronomical event known as the Mercury transit, and it occurs about a dozen times a century.

During the trip, the planet will appear as a black speck awash in the sun’s light. You can track its celestial silhouette for about seven hours, starting around 7:12 a.m. Eastern and ending around 2:42 p.m.

Depending on the weather, it should be visible from most parts of the world, except for Australia, New Zealand and parts of East Asia.

The best way to view it is through a telescope or on several live streams, but don’t try to sneak a peak with your naked eye or camera phone because that could damage your sight.

Jim Green, the director for planetary science at NASA, said that ever since the telescope was invented some 400 years ago, astronomers had used the transit to gain important

“This phenomena that we see in our own solar system, we’re using those same basic principles to find planets around other stars,” he said.

During Monday’s event, solar physicists at NASA will have their high-powered telescopes fixed on Mercury’s edge, where it looks as if the planet ends and the sunlight begins.

“It’s that location where we will see the very tenuous atmosphere of Mercury called an exosphere,” Dr. Green said. They want to gain a better understanding of the sodium that its exosphere emits, he said.

“Mercury Transit is a pretty fantastic event,” added Dr. Green, who first saw the spectacle on May 9, 1970. “It’s one of those things that allow us to keep learning and discovering things not only in our solar system but also in the galaxy.”


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