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Main astronomical event 2016 - make sure you won't miss it! 4/16/2016 •

Main astronomical event 2016 - make sure you won't miss it!

On May 9, 2016, people of Earth will have a wonderful chance to observe a rare celestial phenomenon – transit of planet Mercury across the Sun.


For obvious reasons we are able to observe transits of inner planets only, i.e. orbiting between the Earth and the Sun. As you know, there are only two such planets – Mercury and Venus.

A transit happens when one of these planets passes right in-between the Earth and the Sun so we can see it as a small dark spot on the star’s surface. The transit of Mercury happens about 13-14 times a century which is more seldom than the solar eclipse by the Moon. As to the transit of Venus, it occurs even rarer – twice a century. The last one was registered in 2012, and the next will be only in 2117. Such difference can be explained by the fact that Mercury's orbit is shorter and it rotates faster than Venus.

If you want to contemplate this amazing event, please bear in mind that it will be nearly impossible to do it with the naked eye since the spot on the Sun’s face will be too small. Besides, you may do harm to your eyes by exposing them to the sun rays.

Learn more with QuizzClub:

Have you ever observed any astronomical event? You are welcome to share your experience in the comments!

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Your opinion matters
15 Comments
Pinak Samui
i once viewed venus traversing over the sun but i guess it was before 2012
1
Apr 11, 2016 4:52AM
Deborah McKnight
Very amazing.
0
Apr 16, 2016 8:05PM
Ian Sadler
No "might" about it - looking at this directly WILL damage you retinas. Only use a proper solar scope (NOT an ordinary telescope with "darkened filters", or use a sheet of paper or card with a pinhole in it to project the image onto a screen. DON'T LOOK AT IT WITH SUNGLASSES ON!
0
Apr 16, 2016 9:15PM
David Mitchell
There was a transit in 2004 prior to the one in 2012.
1
Apr 16, 2016 10:25PM
Tom Young
Seems pretty complicated just to view a dark spot...
0
Apr 17, 2016 1:07AM
Ulysses Coleman
We all need to just look up sometime. God Bless Mankind.
0
Apr 17, 2016 1:46AM
Teo Sinclair
There's a little black spot on the sun today...
1
Apr 17, 2016 2:09AM
Ann English
Ann English
Let's see if Mercury's transit is picked up by webcasts, webcasts from a few observatories around the world. Venus' most recent transit was picked up by the U of M observatory, but it was a group in Hawaii, of all places, who went to a high-altitude location and showed on the Internet, Venus' transit across the sun. They were up so high,they needed to wear parkas.
0
Apr 17, 2016 2:13AM
Ann English
Ann English
I think it was on May 10, 1993, that there was a total solar eclipse very close to midday, and I took a hand mirror, 10 inches across, taping a sheet of paper over it, but cutting a hole in the middle of it. I projected the solar eclipse onto an exterior house wall by reflecting the sun via the one exposed section of mirror. But I could not hold the mirror perfectly still. It also could project the solar eclipse onto interior house walls. When the eclipse was over, the mirror showed a fully exposed sun via projection onto a wall.
1
Apr 17, 2016 2:23AM
Jean Stewart Kelly
Haley's Comet in 1986/87 at Treetops Hotel in Kenya.
0
Apr 17, 2016 2:33AM

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