How to watch Mercury pass in front of the sun on Monday


The transit of the planet Mercury is seen is a tiny dot on the sun disk at the bottom right, the bigger dot closer to the middle is a sunspot, pictured in Munich, Germany, 7 May 2003.

Mercury is set to pass in front of the sun on Monday, a cosmic occurrence that only happens about a dozen times per century.

Scientists will be keeping a close eye on the planet as it moves across the face of the sun from Earth’s perspective over the course of about 7.5 hours May 9, and you can check out the transit too either online or in person.

The event takes place from 7:12 a.m. to 2:42 p.m. ET, and millions of people around the world with clear skies should be able to see it using the right eye protection and magnification.

Do not look at the sun with your naked eyes, even during a planetary transit.

If you plan to watch the transit in person, get either a pair of high-powered binoculars or a backyard telescope, both with proper solar filters, to see the transit of Mercury.

But if you can’t see the transit safely in person, you can watch it happen live online thanks to multiple webcasts.

NASA will host a live broadcast from10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET on NASA TV and the space agency’s Facebook page with experts on-hand to discuss the relatively rare transit. You can also watch the webcast in the window embedded below:

People can ask questions in the comments of the Facebook Live page and by using the#AskNASA hashtag on social media.

Scientists will also post photos of the transit from NASA’sSolar Dynamics Observatory, a sun-observing satellite that will keep an eye on the transit of Mercury.

Slooh, a community of astronomy enthusiasts, will also host a webcast featuring live images of the transit of Mercury fromthe Middle East, United States and a new solar telescope in the Canary Islands.

The Slooh webcast starts at 7 a.m. ET, and you can watch it directly through the organizationor in the window below:

“The Transit of Mercury reminds us that all of the planets, including Earth, are in rapid and perpetual motion,” Slooh host, Paul Cox said in a statement.

“As we gaze together at this majestic astronomical event, we will appreciate that it is similar planetary transits around other stars that have allowed us to discover a multitude of strange and exotic exoplanets.”

Sky & Telescope Magazine will also host a webcast from7 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. You can watch it below or directly through the magazine.

Telescopes in space and on the ground will watch the transit in order to observe Mercury’s very thin atmosphere illuminated by the star’s light.

Image courtesy of

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