Latest news

Mercury poised for rare ‘transit’ across sun’s face on Monday

May 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA: Stargazers will have a rare opportunity on Monday to witness Mercury fly directly across the face of the sun, a sight that unfolds once every 10 years or so, as Earth and its smaller neighboring planet come into perfect alignment.

The best vantage points to observe the celestial event, known to astronomers as a transit, are eastern North America, South America, Western Europe and Africa, assuming clouds are not obscuring the sun. In those regions, the entire transit will occur during daylight hours, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.

But Mercury is too small to see without high-powered binoculars or a telescope, and looking directly at the sun, even with sunglasses, could cause permanent eye damage.

Fortunately NASA and astronomy organizations are providing virtual ringside seats for the show by live-streaming images of the transit in its entirety and providing expert commentary.

The tiny planet, slightly larger than Earth’s moon, will start off as a small black dot on the edge of the sun at 7:12 a.m. Eastern (1112 GMT). Traveling 30 miles (48 km) a second, Mercury will take 7.5 hours to cross the face of the sun, which is about 864,300 miles (1.39 million km) in diameter, or about 109 times larger than Earth.

“Unlike sunspots, which have irregular shapes and grayish borders, Mercury’s silhouette will be black and precisely round,” Sky and Telescope said in a press release.

The event will come into view in the western United States after dawn, with the transit already in progress. The show will end at sunset in parts of Europe, Africa and most of Asia.

Scientists will take advantage of Mercury’s transit for a variety of science projects, including refining techniques to look for planets beyond the solar system.

“When a planet crosses in front of the sun, it causes the sun’s brightness to dim. Scientists can measure similar brightness dips from other stars to find planets orbiting them,” NASA said.

Mercury’s last transit was in 2006 and the planet will pass between the sun and Earth again in 2019. After that, the next opportunity to witness the event will not come until 2032.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent News

Senate passes Elections Bill w
Islamabad - The Senate on Friday passed the amended Election Bill 2017 amid a walkout by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani. During proceedings in the Upper House, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan presented an amend...
September 23, 2017 Read More
Pakistan army says Indian firi
ISLAMABAD - Â The Pakistan army said Friday that death toll from the Indian shelling along the Working Boundary in Punjab has reached 6. An army statement said that 26 civilians were also injured ...
September 23, 2017 Read More
Pakistan won’t be a &#82
Pakistan refuses to be a “scapegoat” for Afghanistan's bloodshed or to fight wars for others, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the United Nations on Thursday. Addressing the UN General ...
September 23, 2017 Read More
Ex-NBP president Ali Raza arre
KARACHI: Former National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president Ali Raza was arrested on Friday on the orders of the Sindh High Court. The court set aside bail Raza's in a case filed by the National Acco...
September 23, 2017 Read More
Zardari challenges to Musharra
Toba Tek Singh : Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, responding to former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s allegations against him, said if Musharraf is so brave he sh...
September 23, 2017 Read More
Army Chief confirms death sent
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed on Wednesday the death sentences awarded to four "hardcore" terrorists involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, according to the army'...
September 21, 2017 Read More
Murad vows to set up catholic
Karachi - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has vowed the Catholic Christians to give them land in Education City for establishment of Catholic University. He said this while holding a meeting ...
September 21, 2017 Read More
IHC suspends ECP’s arres
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended on Wednesday the bailable arrest warrants issued against Imran Khan by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Hearing the case, Justice Aame...
September 21, 2017 Read More