Mercury to glide across the Sun on November 11

The transit of the smallest planet in our Solar System will take place during the evening in most parts of Asia and Europe, so Mercury will appear as a dark silhouetted disc set against the bright surface of the Sun.

Mercury will be gliding across the sun on Monday in an event called a transit.

The transit begins at 5:35 a.m. Mountain time, 1 hour and 15 minutes before local sunrise at 6:50 a.m. Periodic, fleeting dips of starlight indicate an orbiting planet.

Transit of Mercury occurs about 13 -15 times in a century, and will not again occur until November 2032 adding it usually happens during May and November months. On an average, there will be 13 or 14 transits of Mercury each century. the first transit was seen in 1631, nearly 20 years after the invention of the telescope by French astronomer Pierre Gassendi.

Transits occur when planets come between us and the Sun, meaning that only two planets can transit: Venus and Mercury.

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After observing the transit of Mercury in 1677, Edmond Halley predicted that transits could be used to accurately measure the distance between the Sun and Earth, which wasn't known at the time.

Spotting the tiny, swiftly moving planet requires a telescope or binoculars. Because the planet is so tiny and so close to the sun, it doesn't block the sun's light, as the moon does during an eclipse. If you miss Monday's event, be prepared for a long wait or a long trip.

Readers are reminded that staring at the sun or trying to view it with telescopic equipment can seriously damage the eyes or cause blindness. Do not look directly at the Sun without a certified solar filter. See the transit map below to learn when and where the transit will be visible. The last transit of Venus was in June of 2012, and the next will occur in December of 2117. Because Mercury is so small, a telescope is required to view the transit. Try looking for a viewing party at a museum or planetarium near you.

"Viewing transits and eclipses provide opportunities to engage the public, to encourage one and all to experience the wonders of the universe and to appreciate how precisely science and mathematics can predict celestial events", Mitzi Adams, a solar scientist at Nasa, said in blog post on Friday.

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